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Portugal:Overview

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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

 


Key features of the education system

The Ministry of Education (ME) is responsible for general non-higher Education in Portugal.

The vocational and professional paths are the  joint responsibility of the ME and the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security (MTSSS).

Higher education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES), which is also responsible for defining and implementing policies affecting the science and technology system. Adult education and training is the joint responsibility of the ME and the MTSSS.

The duties of these three ministries are provided by services that are part of direct state administration, indirect state administration bodies, advisory bodies, and other organisations and entities within state-owned enterprises.

The school network is organized in school clusters which are made up of schools that offer all education levels from pre-school education to secondary education.

The Portuguese education system is very centralized in terms of organization and funding. However, pre-school and basic and secondary education schools have some autonomy, namely at pedagogical level, as well as with regard to timetables and non-teaching staff management.

Higher education institutions have full autonomy.

Compulsory education lasts for 12 years, starting at 6 and ending at 18 years of age or with the conclusion of secondary education (ISCED 3).

Public education is free and universal.

There is a single professional career for teachers of all non-higher education levels, which requires candidates to have a second cycle degree (ISCED 7 –Master’s).

In the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira, the regional governments, via the respective Regional Secretariats for Education, are responsible for defining the national education policy in terms of a regional plan and managing human, material and financial resources. State-run schools are free of charge.

 

 

Stages of the education system

The Portuguese education system is divided in pre-school education (until the start of basic education), basic education (6 to 15 years old) and secondary education (15 to 18 years old).

Attending pre-school education is optional, recognizing the importance of families’ role in children’s education. However, it is universal for children from the year they celebrate their 4th birthday (Law no. 85/2009, 27th August, amended by Law no. 65/2015, 3rd July).

 

Pre-school Education

Pre-school Education covers children from 3 years up to the age of compulsory schooling. There is a public and a private network of pre-school education institutions, which are complementary. The public network is made up of education institutions under the ME and the MTSSS.

The private network is composed of for-profit and not-for-profit education institutions. The former are private and cooperative education institutions, , while the latter are private institutions for social solidarity (IPSS).

Pedagogical tutelage is the responsibility of the ME, which is responsible for ensuring the pedagogical quality of teaching in the pre-school education institution network.

The main pedagogical objectives of pre-school education are:

  • to promote children’s personal and social development;
  • to foster children’s integration into diverse social groups;
  • to contribute to equal opportunities;
  • to stimulate children's overall development;
  • to promote expression and communication development;
  • to enhance curiosity and critical thinking;
  • to provide children with well-being and security;
  • to identify maladjustments, disabilities or giftedness and to encourage families to participate in the educational process.


Basic Education

Basic Education lasts for nine years and is divided into three sequential cycles. Each cycle should complete and build up on the previous one, within a global perspective:

  • the first cycle corresponds to the first four years of schooling;
  • the second cycle corresponds to the next two years (these two cycles together make up primary education);
  • the third cycle lasts for three years and corresponds to lower secondary education.

The guiding principles of curriculum organisation and management aim to ensure a common general background education for all citizens, via the acquisition of fundamental knowledge and skills that allow further study.

In basic education besides general basic education pupils may attend specialized artistic courses in the areas of music and dance.

Basic education can also be concluded and certified through different paths adapted to the profile and specific characteristics  of the students, such as:

  • Education and training courses ;
  • Vocational courses;
  • Alternative curricular pathways ;
  • Integrated education and training programme .

Education and training courses are an opportunity to conclude compulsory schooling via a flexible path adjusted to the interests of each individual, either to pursue studies or become qualified for  the labour market.

For students who are 13 years old or older and haven’t yet completed the first two cycles of basic education, there are vocational courses that offer an alternative to students at risk of leaving school. The 2nd cycle vocational courses last one school year, while the 3rd cycle vocational courses can last one or two years, depending on the student’s profile and proven knowledge and skills.

The Alternative curricular pathways are an exceptional measure (created in 2006) to be used when students show no progress in terms of school results, even after the adoption of measures promoting success, whose goals are school re-orientation.

The Integrated education and training programme encourages competencies for citizenship and social, community and solidarity activities, based on practical and differentiated work methodology, in order to promote education and vocational development.

Secondary Education

Secondary Education lasts for three years and corresponds to upper secondary education. It is organised into different forms according to different aims, either focusing on access to further studies or preparation for working life. The permeability between these two paths is guaranteed.

This level of education and training comprises different types of courses (Decree-law no. 139/2012, 5th June).

Education and Training Paths

Years of Schooling

Age

Scientific-humanistic courses

10-11-12

15-18

Professional courses

Vocational courses

Specialised artistic courses

  • The scientific-humanistic courses are focused on access to higher education;
  • Professional and vocational courses – vocational courses which last two school years – are geared towards students’ professional qualification for working  life, which also allow access to further studies;
  • Depending on the artistic area in question, specialised artistic courses are geared towards further study (music) or both entering the workplace and further studies (visual arts, audio-visual and dance);
  • Courses with specific curriculum offered by some private schools submitted to the Ministry of Education for approval.

Decree Law no. 139/2012, 5th July, also states that, as part of the diversification of training provision, other professional education and training qualification provision can be offered, such as adult education and training courses.

 

Higher Education

Higher Education is structured according to the Bologna principles to ensure solid scientific and cultural preparation, plus technical training that qualifies students for professional and cultural life, while developing their capability to innovate and apply critical analysis.

Portuguese higher education system is a binary system that includes the university and the polytechnic systems. Universities are geared  towards offering solid scientific training, gathering the efforts and competences of teaching and research units, while polytechnics focus on vocational and advanced technical training for  the world of work.

University studies are taught at universities, university institutes, and all other institutions within university education, and polytechnic studies are taught at polytechnic institutes, and other institutions within polytechnic education, and both are offered by public, private and cooperative institutions.

Despite this binary division, there are some polytechnic institutions that are part of universities

 

Adult Education and Training

There is a range of provision in the area of Adult Education and Training, with specific objectives and target-groups:

  • Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences – Processes involving the recognition of competences acquired by adults that confer a school and/or professional certification;
  • Adult Education and Training courses – Focussed on a  qualifications upgrade viadual certification paths;
  • Modular Training – Allows the conclusion of basic or secondary education, obtaining academic and professional competences, with a view to (re)integration or progression in the labour market;
  • Technological Specialization Courses – These aim to satisfy the needs of the socioeconomic fabric at the level of middle managers, and are an alternative to improving  young people’s qualification and the professional requalification of the working population;
  • Secondary Education Conclusion Paths – Destined for those who attended, but didn’t complete, training paths with study plans that were or are becoming defunct;
  • Recurrent Education – Designed for adults that didn’t complete basic or secondary education at the normal age.

The area of adult education and training area is undergoing a wide-ranging reform to deal with the structural deficit of the Portuguese population’s qualifications.

For a more detailed description of these and other topics regarding the national education system, please read: Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends, Organisation and GovernanceFunding in EducationPre-school EducationSingle Structure EducationSecondary educationHigher education, Adult Education and TrainingTeachers and education staffManagement and other educational staff, Quality assurance, Educational support and guidanceMobility and internationalization.

For information on recently adopted or planned reforms and policy measures, please consult the  Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments.


Structure of the national education system

2016 diagram PT.pngsource: Eurydice 2016

Common European Reference Tools Provided by the Eurydice Network


Other useful links

Ministry of Education

Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security

Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education

Direção Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência

Eurydice Network Portuguese Unit

Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional

Conselho Nacional da Educação