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Portugal:Lifelong Learning Strategy

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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 committed to implementing the Conclusions of the Council of the European Union, 12th May, 2009, in the scope of strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (VET).

The Public Administration sector has the obligation of contributing to the fulfilment of the main strategic objectives of this framework, which are: by 2020, the percentage of young people leaving school early should be reduced to under 10% and the percentage of people between 30 and 34 years old completing a Higher Education course or equivalent should increase to at least 40%.

The Copenhagen process is an integral part of the Education and Training 2020 strategic framework, which means that the objectives for VET should also be consistent with the general objectives established in this framework.

In January 2012, the Commitment for Growth, Competitiveness and Employment was signed, focussed on the strategic reprogramming of the NSRF for 2014-2020 and redirecting public investment to areas that have a particular impact on employment and competitiveness, which include the following measures:

  • Further training: mechanisms should be created to facilitate worker access to further training via the modular training set out in the National Qualifications Catalogue (NQC). Modular training must make it possible to construct a learning pathway leading to a duly recognised and certified profession.
  • Consolidating vocational education and the link between schools and businesses: it is important to increase qualification levels and significantly improve the quality of provision in upper-secondary level education and vocational training courses, via:
  • increasing the number of young people doing vocational courses in upper-secondary education;
  • referencing all dual certification for young people to the NQC;
  • the focus on a coordinated system of school and vocational guidance and encouraging cooperation between enterprises and training bodies, in order to rationalise financial resources and networking, matching supply to the needs of the labour market, thus increasing levels of employability.
  • Improving the vocational certification system: It is crucial to improve young people’s initial qualification and the vocational certification of young people and adults, whether it be on long-term or modular training courses, or via the validation and recognition of competences obtained throughout life.


The reform of the Portuguese education and training system began in 2007, with the aim of finding innovative solutions with regard to objectives, organisation and the resources used to improve skill levels of young people and adults.

This reform process led to the creation of the National Qualifications System (NQS) (Decree-Law no. 396/2007, 31st December) which was designed to coordinate education, training and employment, creating new tools and modernising regulatory bodies.

The National Qualifications System in Portugal has a number of objectives, such as:

  1. Improving integration between general and vocational aspects of education and training provision, involving the principle of dual certification for all of them;
  2. providing access mechanisms for school and professional competence certification acquired via informal and non-formal channels:
  3. facilitating access to qualification within the context of lifelong learning, promoting flexible training provision via short-term modular units that are convertible and independently certified;
  4. improving mechanisms for the supervision and monitoring of quality in education and training pathways within the National Qualifications Framework;
  5. promoting the importance, certification and recognition of education and training provision, improving coordination with the needs of the productive sector.

The National Qualifications Framework was supported by a new institutional approach, which included the creation of the National Qualification Agency, a public institute set up in 2006 under the joint supervision and responsibility of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity.

In 2012, the National Qualification Agency was replaced in its duties, rights and obligations by the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education and Training (Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional, I.P.) (Decree-Law no. 36/2012, 15th February), which is overseen by the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security and the Ministry of Education, in conjunction with the Ministry of Economy.

The creation of this body allowed the coordination and management of dual certified education and training within a single service, promoting greater coherence and transparency within the system.

The National Qualification System also established a number of structures, including the National Qualifications Catalogue, the National Qualifications Framework, the recognition, validation and certification of competences and the individual skills portfolio (Decree-Law no. 396/2007, 31st December).

To meet the outlined objectives, a set of different structures was put in place, including:

  • The New Opportunities Centres (since replaced by the Centres for Qualification and Vocational Education, which, according to a recent announcement from the Government, will be now called Qualifica Centres);
  • the network of certified training bodies (primary and secondary teaching establishments managed directly or via protocol, bodies with certified training providers,..);
  • the Sector Councils for Qualification, which support the agency’s work regarding the National Qualification Agency.

The different forms of education and training geared towards the adult population would become much more diverse with the creation of the key skills framework for upper-secondary level for adult education and training.

This turns possible the expansion of Adult Education and Training (AET) courses, the recognition, validation and certification of upper-secondary level competences and the new possibility of flexible use of AET courses, with the introduction in 2007 of Paths for Completion of Upper-Secondary Education designed for candidates with incomplete schooling (up to 6 subjects/year) in relation to syllabus that no longer exist (Decree-Law no. 357/2007, 29th October) and the creation of certified modular training in 2008 to meet the qualification needs of the employed population (Ordinance no. 230/2008, 7th March).

At the same time, the National Qualifications Catalogue has seen important changes made with the updating and inclusion of new vocational profiles, training frameworks and competence recognition, validation and certification frameworks, as well as the inclusion of training designed for a range of publics with specific needs and which imply sets of organized, short-term training bodies that are part of the Training of Entrepreneurs Initiative, Portuguese for Speakers of Other Languages and the basic competences training programme.

In order to guarantee that the Catalogue includes strategic qualifications for the different sectors of the economy, 16 Sector Councils for Qualifications (SQC) were set up, which aimed to permanently identify the need to update the National Qualifications Catalogue and collaborate with ANQEP, I.P. in work involving updating and development. The Sector Councils are essentially strategic and function as a front line of more operational work that is developed on the basis of a network and cooperation.

The Sector Councils for Qualifications are technical-consultancy working groups created by the then Agência Nacional para a Qualificação (National Qualification Agency), in line with article 17, of Decree-Law no. 396/2007.

For the purposes of updating the National Qualifications Catalogue, the Open Consultancy Model was set up, which is a permanent consultancy mechanism which is extended to all National Qualifications System bodies.

As such, the identification of the development needs of the National Qualifications Catalogue offers greater formalisation of proposals on behalf of the National Qualifications System training bodies and other employers, seeking to provide them with methodological support and guidance when defining their proposals.

In terms of lifelong learning strategies, it is important to mention the European Programme that, between 2007 and 2013, was in force in Europe and in Portugal, which was implemented by the National Agency for the Management of the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP), succeeding the previous community programmes, Socrates II and Leonardo da Vinci.

Covering all the main education and training areas via the sub-programmes Comenius (pre-school and school education), Erasmus (higher education), Grundtvig (adult learning), Leonardo da Vinci (vocational education and training) and Transversal Programme, it was possible to fit Portuguese action within a European strategy covering all operational areas of education and training.

Following on from the LLP, the European Commission approved the Erasmus+ programme (implementing it from the beginning of 2014), which, with the due updates and adaptations, continues to meet the objectives of Strategy 2020 on a European and international level.

The programme’s importance is widely recognised by the thousands of participants who were able to benefit from the European Union’s logistical and financial support for the implementation of Strategy 2020, which, after the second year of the Erasmus+ programme, continues to attract growing participation.

Recognising the key role of the programme in terms of the internationalisation of education and training in Portugal, the Government guaranteed the continued mission structure that the LLP implemented, creating the National ERASMUS + Education and Training Agency  via the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 15/2014, 24th February and the Statement of Rectification No. 23/2014, 9th April, 2014.

The National ERASMUS + Education and Training Agency is the body that oversees the Erasmus+ Programme related to the School Education, Higher Education, Professional Education and Training and Adult Education sectors, in conjunction with all the other Member-States of the European Union. It also supports the implementation of centralised actions so that the programme continues to reach ever more individuals who, regardless of their age and education, hope to improve their personal and professional competences via the existing education and training systems.

Together with the National ERASMUS+ Education and Training Agency, the National ERASMUS+ Youth in Action Agency is the managing entity of the Erasmus+ Programme for the Youth and Sport sectors.