SEATTLE — Portugal is consistently ranked in the top 30 educational systems in the world. With nearly three million people age 24 and younger, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education and the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity have a lot of youth to account for in order to maintain those high rankings.
Education in Portugal is broken down into three major levels, including preschool education, compulsory schooling (or basic education) and post-compulsory (or secondary education). Preschool, for children ages three to five, is optional and is offered by kindergartens, which are run by a variety of state organizations, charitable institutions, private schools, cooperatives and unions.
Compulsory basic education is free for everyone, although parents can choose private alternatives. It is for children from six to 15 years old. There are three cycles, each lasting multiple years, focusing on different areas of education and activities. Basic education in Portugal is intended to allow students to develop interests, aptitudes and skills to grow as individuals. The basic educational system also is intended to allow students to acquire and master basic knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to form a basis for further studies. At this stage of learning, Portugal seeks to instill a sense of civic responsibility and encourage democratic practices in their youth.
The post-compulsory level of education is divided into different subsections, general and technical. University education and non-university higher education (polytechnic education) are provided in public and private universities. There are also non-university higher education institutions, also both public and private, that are also considered vocational. This level of education in Portugal is intended to train students in fields of their interest, or prepare them for further schooling (required for careers in medicine or law) in tertiary levels.
Portugal has a more successful education system than many other countries because it continues to enforce the need for education and provides specified training and teaching for little to no cost for families.
However, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) stated in 2014 that to continue improving in light of recent and continued economic deficits, Portugal needs to address attainment and retention rates in upper-level studies as well as provide better training for teachers and school administrators. The OECD also suggests further development of evaluative and assessment frameworks for the quality of learning that would hold teachers, schools and systems accountable for improvement.
Portugal has since implemented policies, like the Programme to Combat School Failure and Early School Leaving, to better follow the OECD suggestions and continue to offer their children better education. With the path that education in Portugal is taking, it is possible that the nation can break into higher global rankings and succeed in securing a strong outlook for the future.
– Gabriella Paez