The system of education in Portugal was thoroughly established during the earlier part of the 1900, but university education in the country dates back on the 13th century. University education in Portugal was administered by church clergy, and by 1980s, literacy in the nation rose to 80 percent. But despite this, higher education in the country is reserved to a small portion of its population. Even in this modern day’s standards, the literacy rate in Portugal is only 93 percent which is considered low for Western and Central European countries. Student percentage enrolling to higher education is 11 percent lower compared to countries such as Slovenia and Slovakia. But this is just numbers, nevertheless the educational quality in the nation is not compromised.
Education for preschool children in Portugal is optional. Three year old children are enrolled for about two to three years. Public schools in the country are free, while private schools charge them to pay fees.
The fundamental school education in Portugal starts at five or six years old children, which runs for nine years. The entire education is divided in three levels which consist of four, two and three years respectively. After each phase, students were awarded certificate of fundamental education. There are 2 kinds of courses included in vocational courses and general courses. Permeability is guaranteed when it comes to the courses being offered. Admission to higher education is easy when the certificate for secondary education is awarded.
The Portuguese higher education is also divided into two sub-systems non-university and university education. Both private and public universities in the country are known to award educational degrees. The system for higher education is controlled and monitored by the nation’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science. The flexibility of the studies is one of the most appreciated approaches in the education system of Portugal. Students are allowed to shift from university education to polytechnic education and vice versa. This process is irrespective of the fact that you have come from a public or private school. Most polytechnic colleges and universities in the country are supervised by the Ministry of Education but some of them are public autonomous schools.
The tertiary education in Portugal is very oriented on theories and with interests on research of higher degrees like doctorates and masters, whereas those degrees for polytechnic colleges and vocational institutions are practically oriented which prepare their students for those skilled work.
The education system in Portugal was also controversial due to flux and some erratic policies that it has experienced for long periods of time. There are also concerns on the large rates of students who are dropping out of school (mostly in higher education and secondary system) and the multi-functional illiteracy (generational) as well as illiteracy rates which is a mediocre statistics when compared to other developed nations in Europe, Eastern Asia and North America. But all in all, the education system in Portugal is at its best as the quality of education is not being compromised and it is the at most priority of the country: to educate its people.