Education in Lisbon

School system in Lisbon

Home > Expat Guides > Europe > Portugal > Lisbon

Education in Portugal is regulated by the State through two ministries - the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education. There is a system of public education and also many private schools at all levels of education. While the basic literacy rate of the Portuguese population is 93%, the functional literacy is amongst the lowest in Europe. The higher-education rate in the country still remains the lowest in the European Union, this rate was around 7% in 2003 and improved to 11% in 2007. The education system is divided into the following stages:

Pre-primary education: Pre-primary education is optional from the ages of three to five, and is provided in both state-run and private nursery schools. State-run nursery provision is free of charge; fees are payable for private nursery schools. The schools are known as Jardins-de-Infância (Kindergartens).

Pre-higher education: Basic Education lasts for nine years divided into three stages of four, two and three years respectively. A Diploma or Certificate is awarded at the end of the third stage. Secondary education whether public, private or cooperative is compulsory and consists of a three-year cycle after basic education. Access is through the Certificate of Basic Education. There are two types of courses: general courses and technical or vocational courses, providing instruction in technical, technological, professional fields and in the Portuguese language and culture.

Secondary education: It is only after the ninth grade of basic schooling that the Portuguese General Education system branches out into different secondary programmes, one higher education-oriented (general secondary courses) and the other more work-oriented (technological secondary courses).

Other types of school education: There are also special modalities of school education. The programmes offered by vocational schools, those of the apprenticeship system and those of recurrent studies are considered as a special modality of school education. These programmes are not regular, because they are not included in the mainstream regular progression of the education system.  They are designed to respond to specific educational needs of different target-groups of the population.

Higher education: Portugal has two main systems of higher education:

  • The university system, which is the oldest, has its origins in the 13th century. It is composed of thirteen public universities, one public university institute, a public open university, and several private universities and university institutes.
  • The polytechnic system, that began offering higher education in the 1980s after the former industrial and commercial schools were converted into engineering and administration higher education schools. It is composed of fifteen state-run polytechnic institutes, public and private non-integrated polytechnic institutions, and other similar institutions.

Portugal is also part of the Bologna Process which is aimed at establishing a European Higher Education Area by 2010.

For an indepth guide to the education system in Portugal, click here.


Update 7/09/2009


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest Addthis

Recommended Service Partners

International Movers
International Movers in Lisbon
Compare up to 5 quotes from our network of moving companies that can help you plan your international move and relocate your entire family.
Expatriate health insurance
Expatriate health insurance in Portugal
Apply online for free quotes on repatriation assistance and expatriate and foreign health insurance.
Find accommodation
Find accommodation in Lisbon, Portugal
Uniplaces is an online marketplace for booking mid-long term accommodation with thousands of verified properties.
Hotels in Portugal
You will get discount hotel rates, last-minute deals, hot deals, special offers, with a real-time reservation and on-line booking.

Do you have comments or personal information to communicate about this article? Add your comment.

Go to the Forum to talk more about school system in Lisbon, education.

Find more definitions and general answers on expatriation issues in the Expat FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).