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Portugal:Historical Development

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Overview Portugal

Contents

Portugal:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Portugal:Historical Development

Portugal:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Portugal:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Portugal:Political and Economic Situation

Portugal:Organisation and Governance

Portugal:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Portugal:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Portugal:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Portugal:Organisation of Private Education

Portugal:National Qualifications Framework

Portugal:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Portugal:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Portugal:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Portugal:Funding in Education

Portugal:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Portugal:Higher Education Funding

Portugal:Adult Education and Training Funding

Portugal:Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:Organisation of Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Assessment in Programmes for Children under 3 years

Portugal:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 3 years

Portugal:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:Single Structure Education (Integrated Primary and Lower Secondary Education)

Portugal:Organisation of Single Structure Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Assessment in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Single Structure Education

Portugal:Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Portugal:Organisation of Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Teaching and Learning in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Assessment in Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Portugal:Higher Education

Portugal:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Portugal:First Cycle Programmes

Portugal:Bachelor

Portugal:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Portugal:Second Cycle Programmes

Portugal:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Portugal:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Portugal:Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Distribution of Responsibilities

Portugal:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Portugal:Main Providers

Portugal:Main Types of Provision

Portugal:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Portugal:Teachers and Education Staff

Portugal:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Management and Other Education Staff

Portugal:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Portugal:Management Staff for Higher Education

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Portugal:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Quality Assurance

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Portugal:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Educational Support and Guidance

Portugal:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Portugal:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Portugal:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Portugal:Mobility and Internationalisation

Portugal:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Mobility in Higher Education

Portugal:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Portugal:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Portugal:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Portugal:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Portugal:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Portugal:National Reforms in School Education

Portugal:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Portugal:National Reforms in Higher Education

Portugal:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Portugal:European Perspective

Portugal:Legislation

Portugal:Institutions

Portugal:Glossary

Portugal is the oldest Nation-State in Europe. It was founded in 1143, its current borders being established in mid-13th century, some of the most ancient in Europe and the world.

Between 1143 and 1910, Portugal was a monarchy. From 1415, it began an expansionist movement that took Portuguese language and culture to the five continents. The Portuguese navigators were responsible for discovering the maritime route to India in the 15th century, for discovering and colonizing the Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores, for discovering Brazil, in 1500, and for the first European contact with Japan, among many other well-known deeds.

The 19th century was one of economic and financial crisis and political agitation, caused primarily by the French Invasions at the beginning of the century and the advent of the Constitutional Monarchy in 1821.

At a time when many northern European countries were building public education networks, Portugal was enduring a troubled period that prevented major advances in this area. This is one of the reasons for the structural deficiencies of the Portuguese education system.

In 1910, the Republic was established, however, political problems and turmoil continued for the next decade and a half. Portugal fought alongside the Allies in the First World War, which aggravated the political and financial crisis.

This situation led to the military taking power in 1926, setting up a dictatorial regime. António de Oliveira Salazar was appointed Minister of Finance by the new regime in 1928, and in 1932 he also became President of the Council (Prime Minister). A year later, the constitution that established the Estado Novo was approved.

Between 1933 and 1974, the Estado Novo (New State) was a corporatist regime, much like others that had taken power in other European countries, with a presidential, authoritarian and antiparliamentary concept of the State. Despite its presidential appearance, the President of the Council (Salazar) was the regime’s key figure.

Portugal was neutral during World War II, which allowed the regime to emerge unscathed, even after Allies’ victory in 1945. That said, the regime’s refusal to extend domestic democracy meant Portugal did not benefit from post-war support programmes, which prolonged the country's backwardness and isolation in many areas.

In terms of international organizations, Portugal is a founding member of NATO (1949), EFTA (1960) and OECD (1961).

The entrenchment of a closed and single party regime was another reason the education system developed little. While, in the 1960s, Europe debated whether to extend compulsory schooling to 10 or 12 years, in Portugal it increased from 3 to 4 years at the beginning of that decade. In fact, what little reform occurred during the 1960s was largely due to international pressure.

From 1961, the totalitarian regime began to crumble, largely due to the Colonial War, caused by the independence movements in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and in Portuguese India, places Portugal refused to give independence to. Alongside this, Portugal’s isolation worsened, as the international community condemned the country and pressured it to resolve the issue of its colonies.

On 25th April, 1974, a military movement, led by young army officers, known as the Carnation Revolution, put an end to the Estado Novo and kick-started a process that culminated in a democratic regime. After this Revolution, all the former Portuguese colonies were given independence.

In 1976, parliament was elected and the first Constitutional Government formed, establishing a modern democratic state, guaranteeing citizens’ rights and freedoms, an economy founded on the coexistence of three sectors of property and economic activity (public, private and cooperative), a semi-presidential governmental system, the autonomy of local authority, self-rule of the Azores and Madeira autonomous regions and subordination of the armed forces to political power.

On 1st January, 1986, Portugal joined the European Economic Community (EEC), which was the predecessor of the European Union, and then left EFTA. In 1999, it was part of the first group of countries to adopt the Euro as its national currency.

Still in the 1990s, in order to strengthen cultural and economic links with Portuguese-speaking countries, Portugal was one of the founding members, alongside Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe. The Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) was joined by East Timor after it became independent from Indonesia in 2002.

Recently, the CPLP offered membership to non-Portuguese speaking countries, and Equatorial Guinea joined in 2014. It also has associate members and observers including such countries as Japan, Georgia, Australia and Macao, among others.

 

Evolution of the education system

It was only in the 1960s that the regime undertook a major reform of educational policy due, primarily, to a new global situation and pressure from international organizations that Portugal was part of.

Compulsory primary schooling was extended from three to four years, via a differentiated procedure for boys and girls, in two distinct phases (the first cycle became compulsory, for both sexes, in 1960).

Decree-Law no. 45 810, 9th July, 1964, extended compulsory schooling to six years, targeting the entire school population up to the age of 14, with primary school attendance (4 years) followed by one of two new possibilities: supplementary primary or upper secondary education preparatory cycle (2 years).

In 1964, an alternative form of completing compulsory was created, Telescola. This new form of schooling using television played a very important role in Portugal, and it was a huge success within Europe, operating until the 2003/2004 academic year.

In spite of the development in education policies in the 1960s, in 1970, Portugal still had a illiteracy rate of more than 25%. There is no data for the preceding decades.

Since 1974, parallel to the desire to make access to education more democratic and widespread, Portuguese society underwent major change that boosted the number of students at all levels of schooling.

In addition to the increase in the birth-rate resulting from new optimism, the end of the colonial war and the return of Portuguese citizens who, until then, lived in the African colonies (especially Angola and Mozambique, but also Cabo Verde, São Tomé e Príncipe and Guinea Bissau, as well as East Timor, in the Pacific Ocean) created enormous demographic pressure on the country in general and on education in particular.

After what was, in political terms, a very agitated post-revolutionary period regarding education, priority started being given to curricular, technical and professional aspects, instead of ideologies, with a growing awareness of the perverse effects that an expanding educational system may have, particularly regarding quality. Also, the structural problems of the Portuguese economy would delay educational reform.

However, in 1986, certain measures led to the publication of the Lei de Bases do Sistema Educativo (Education Act):

  • Basic Education: elimination of the transition from the first to the second learning phase and gradual elimination of complementary preparatory education courses (except pedagogical experimentation), provided students could be included in direct education. Also, new programmes were introduced for 1978-1979. The effective implementation of compulsory education was supported by several measures, such as school transport, school canteens, food supplements, accommodation, meals and, whenever needed, economic support for families.
  • Secondary Education: introduction of the 8th and 9th grades for the general course. The complementary course of unified education was divided into five areas, which included a common set of subjects, a specific and vocational component. The complementary course (10th and 11th grades), which was set up in 1978, following the general course, now ensured vocational training in the chosen area, with a view to continuing respective studies.

 

To substitute community service, the introductory year was set up in 1977. It had five subjects, of which two (Portuguese language and a foreign language) were compulsory. This year also saw the introduction of the numerus clausus policy, which stipulated the number of students that could be admitted in the first year of each higher education course annually.

In 1980, this introductory year was replaced by the 12th grade, which completed the final cycle of secondary education and functioned as the foundation year before entering higher education. This year was divided into two pathways: the teaching pathway, geared towards study at higher education institutions, and the vocational path, which provided access to a polytechnic.

In 1983, the need for qualified workers and an employment policy for young adults led to the creation of technical-professional courses, which were taught after the 9th year.

Those three-year courses correspond to 10th, 11th and 12th years and grant certificates that offer access to higher education and certificates of technical-professional training that allow students to enter the labour market.

Artistic education was also restructured. In 1983, the teaching of music, dance, theatre and cinema was restructured in general basic, secondary and higher education. In 1999 and 2000, provision was extended in General Courses, Specialized Artistic Education, Technological Courses, Professional Courses and Recurrent Education Courses.

In 1986, the year Portugal entered the European Economic Community, the Education Act (Law no. 46/86, 14th October) established a new general framework for the Portuguese education system. Compulsory education now lasted 9 years, with the obligation to attend until 15.

The goal was to provide basic education divided in three connected cycles and a post-compulsory education which, on one hand, was the continuation of the 3rd cycle and, on the other, offered the transition to higher education or the labour market.

The third cycle (7th, 8th and 9th years, the equivalent of the old “secundário geral unificado”) saw an important increase in the number of students attending until the mid-1990s (between 1987 and 1995, there was an increase of enrolled students of more than 130,000), a period when the impact of a decrease in the birth-rate started to show.

More than two decades separate the latest extension of compulsory education from the one that occurred in 1986. Law no. 85/2009 defined the extension of compulsory schooling to secondary education (12 years), or until 18 years of age.

This new legal framework probably makes this level more attractive in itself (and not only as a platform for access to higher education), and boost numbers to near the levels of students enrolled in the mid-1990s. The maximum number of students enrolled in secondary education was in 1996 (around 500,000).

Generally speaking, the biggest increase in the number students enrolled was in early and higher education, essentially from the mid-1970s onwards (in the early 1960s only 6,000 students were enrolled in early education).

This increase of children in pre-school education was also accompanied by a longer period of attendance, which surpassed one year in 1988, increased to an average of two years in 1998, and reached two years and five months in 2008.

 

Number of children attending pre-school education

Year

Total

1970

15,153

1975

42,490

1980

80,373

1985

116,325

1990

161,629

1995

185,088

2000

228,459

2005

259,788

2010

274,387

2015

264,660

Source:  DGEEC/MEd - MCTES, PORDATA

 

In higher education, there was also a significant increase in student numbers: 290,000 more students between 1978 and 2009, which means 4.5 times more students in three decades. The maximum number of students enrolled in higher education was attained in 2003 (around 400,000).

With the change in the number of students in higher education, there is an increase in the percentage of the population with this level of education: in 1960, less than 1% of residents aged 20 or older had a level of education equivalent to higher education. In 2011, this figure reached 14.8% (source: PORDATA).

 

Number of students attending Higher Education

Year

Total

1978

81,582

1985

102,145

1990

157,869

1995

290,348

2000

373,745

2005

380,937

2010

383,627

2015

349,658

Source:  DGEEC/MEd - MCTES, PORDATA

 

That said, although schooling became widespread in terms of attendance and duration, there are still many of the Portuguese population who have not completed any level of formal education.

In 1960, two thirds of residents aged 15 or older had no formal education level, with this situation being even more extreme among women (72%). In 1981, five years before Portugal joined the EEC, 22% of the population (27% for women) was still in this situation.

In 2012, this was still true for half a million people, the majority women (most cases of “illiteracy” are amongst the older population and the concept is equivalent to the category of people “with no level of schooling”, although not necessarily synonymous).

This worrying situation contrasts with that of younger people, whose schooling rate is almost 100%.

Although the 1st cycle still has the highest attendance level, the maximum number of enrolled students, 946,000, was attained in 1981. Since then, the number of students in this cycle has been decreasing, which is due to the falling birth rate. From the mid-1980s, this phenomenon began to have an impact on the 2nd cycle.