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The Greek education system is governed by national laws and legislative acts (decrees, ministerial decisions), while the general responsibility for education lies with the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. The Greek education system was until recently predominantly centralised, however, within the framework of the country's adaptation to international standards, actions are being undertaken in order to shift towards decentralisation. Curricula and weekly timetables, for all types of primary and secondary education schools, are centrally specified and their application is compulsory for all schools in the country.
Early Childhood Education and Care
Pre-primary education in Greece begins at the age of 4 when children are allowed to enrol in Nipiagogeia (pre-primary schools). Attendance in them is compulsory for all 5 year old children. The operation of Nipiagogeia falls under the authority of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. In what regards early childhood care, Child and Infant Centres operate under the auspices of the Municipal Authorities.
The next stage comprises the compulsory attendance of Dimotiko Scholeio (Primary School) which belongs to primary education and lasts for 6 years.
The 3 year attendance of Gymnasio (lower secondary education) constitutes the last period of compulsory education and is a prerequisite for enrolling and attending general or vocational upper secondary schools. In parallel with day Gymnasio, Esperino Gymnasio (Evening Lower Secondary Education School) operates, in which attendance starts at the age of 14.
The second tier of secondary education lasts also for 3 years, constitutes the non-compulsory upper secondary education and comprises general secondary education (including Geniko Lykeio/General Lyceum) and vocational secondary education (including Epaggelmatiko Lykeio/Vocational Lyceum). Epaggelmatiko Lykeio offers two cycles of studies, which belong to the formal educational system: a. the secondary cycle and b. the (optional) post-secondary cycle of studies, the so-called "apprenticeship class". In General and Vocational Lyceum pupils enroll at the age of 15. Parallel to day schools, Esperina Genika Lykeia (Evening General Lyceums) and Esperina Epaggelmatika Lykeia (Evening Vocational Lyceums) also operate, while the minimum age for enrollment in Evening Vocational Lyceum is 16 years of age.
The administration of primary and secondary education is conducted at central, regional and local level respectively by: the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs; the Regional Education Directorates; the Directorates of Education (Prefecture); and the School Units.
Higher education constitutes the last level of the formal education system and comprises the University and Technological sectors. The University sector includes Universities, Technical Universities, and the School of Fine Arts. The Technological sector includes the Technological Education Institutions (TEIs), and the School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPETE).
Higher education institutions are fully self-administered legal entities of public law. Collective bodies that are established and act in compliance with special legislation administer each institution.
Lifelong Learning policy in Greece, which comprises -apart from formal education- non formal education and informal learning, is part of a wider development plan aiming at giving emphasis to human knowledge, abilities and skills. The General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning is responsible for the development of national policy concerning lifelong learning, as well as for supervising, coordinating and supporting bodies constituting the National Network for Lifelong Learning.
In the framework of non-formal education, which can lead to certificates recognised by the state, structures providing lifelong learning services are as follows: a. Scholes Epaggelmatikis Katartisis - SEK (Vocational Training Schools), which provide non-formal initial vocational training of three years' duration to graduates of compulsory formal education, b. Institouta Epaggelmatikis Katartisis - IEK (Vocational Training Institutes), which offer non-formal initial vocational training to graduates of formal non-compulsory secondary education, as well as to SEK graduates, c. Kentra Dia Viou Mathisis (Lifelong learning Centers), which provide continuing vocational training, general adult education, vocational guidance and lifelong counseling and d. Kollegia (Colleges), which provide non-formal education to graduates of formal non compulsory secondary education. From the above mentioned institutions, IEK (public and/or private) and Kollegia (only private) constitute also post-secondary non-tertiary education structures.
For further information, please consult the introduction articles of Organisation and Governance and of each educational level: Early Childhood Education, Primary Education, Secondary Education and Post Secondary Non Tertiary Education, Higher Education and Adult Education and Training.
For a brief description of other main topics regarding the national education system, please read the introduction article of Funding education, Teachers and education staff, Management and other educational staff, Educational support and guidance, Quality assurance, Mobility and internationalisation.
For information on recently adopted or planned reforms and policy measures, please consult topic Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments.
While Eurypedia provides comprehensive and comparable information, further information may also be found on the websites of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.
Structure of the national education system 2014/15
Age of students Programme duration (years)
Common European Reference Tools Provided by the Eurydice Network
- National Student Fee and Support Systems
- Organisation of the Academic Year in Higher Education
- Organisation of School Time in Europe(Primary and general secondary education)
- Recommended Annual Instruction Time in Full-Time Compulsory Education in Europe (Presented by grades/stages for full time compulsory education as well as by subject and country.)
- Teachers and School Heads Salaries and Allowances in Europe (Salaries and allowances of teachers and school heads at pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education levels.)