Portuguese education system

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Organization of the education system in Portugal.

The education system in Portugal is regulated by the state through the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science , Technology and Higher Education.

In Portugal, school attendance is compulsory from the age of 6 and ends when the pupil turns 18 in grade 12 ( 12.º ano de escolaridade ).

The education system is divided into three main parts: Ensino básico (basic / initial education), Ensino secundário (secondary education) and Ensino superior (higher education).

The literacy rate for adults is 96 percent and for primary school children almost 100 percent.

School calendar

Basic (elementary) and advanced education

  • Each school year is divided into 3 periods:
  • 1st period: ~ September 10th to December 14th
  • 2nd period: ~ from January 3rd to the last two weeks before the Easter holidays
  • 3rd period: Tuesday after the Easter holidays until mid-June

Higher education

Higher education, which is not compulsory, is divided into two semesters per year.

Structure of teaching / the education system

Education system in Portugal
Ensino secundário

Secondary education

12th degree + exam 12th degree (= 12th grade + high school diploma)
11. ° ano
10. ° ano
Ensino básico

Basic training

3. ° ciclo

3rd cycle

9. ° ano
8. ° ano
7. ° ano
2. ° ciclo

2nd cycle

6. ° ano
5. ° ano
1. ° ciclo

1st cycle

4. ° ano
3. ° ano
2. ° ano
1. ° ano

Basic training

The basic training is divided into three cycles: 1st cycle ( 1.º ciclo ), 2nd cycle ( 2.º ciclo ) and 3rd cycle ( 3.º ciclo ).

1st cycle

In the first cycle ( 1.º ciclo ) evaluations from " Insuficiente " (insufficient / unsatisfactory) to " Excelente / Muito bom " (excellent) are carried out. There are no grades in the 1st cycle.

The subjects taught are mathematics , Portuguese , English ( 1st foreign language lesson ), arts and sports . Other compulsory lessons offered by public primary schools in Portugal are study assistance / tasks.

2nd cycle

Starting with cycle 2, students are rated on a non-linear scale from 1 to 5, with each score corresponding to one of the percentages in the table below:

Evaluation from the 2nd cycle
Classification of the

Proof of equivalence

rating Final


0% - 19% Insuficiente (insufficient / unsatisfactory) 1
20% - 49% 2
50% - 69% Satisfatório (satisfactory) 3
70% - 89% Bom (good) 4th
90% - 100% Muito bom (very good / excellent) 5

Subjects taught in the second cycle

Every public school has to offer a certain number of hours of homework supervision.

3rd cycle

Subjects taught in the third cycle

1 The pupil can freely choose the second foreign language . It can be one of the following languages :

Assessment tests

In the third cycle, 8th grade students are assessed using benchmarking tests in the subjects of mathematics and Portuguese . These two tests usually take place in July.

National exams : In Grade 9, students are assessed through the national exams in Portuguese and Mathematics. In this test, in contrast to the placement tests, the grades of the students are determined on an annual average.

Teaching of foreign languages

The self-image of the language skills of the Portuguese in 2011 shows that 27% of them speak one foreign language, 21% two foreign languages ​​and 12% three foreign languages.

Since 2005, teaching English has been compulsory from the second year of primary school.

From the second cycle, English is chosen as the first foreign language almost everywhere . It is rare for schools to offer other languages.

Since 2004, learning a second foreign language has been compulsory from the 3rd cycle onwards. In the majority of cases, French is chosen, followed by Spanish ( Castilian ). German is the least popular with the students.

Secondary education: 10th, 11th and 12th grades

In secondary school, invited students must choose between one of the following options

  1. Cursos Científico-Humanísticos (Scientific-Humanistic Courses)
  2. Cursos com Planos Próprios (courses with your own plans)
  3. Cursos Artísticos Especializados (Specialized Courses for Artists)
  4. Cursos Profissionais (Professional Courses)
  5. Ensino Secundário na Modalidade de Ensino Recorrente (secondary education in repetitive mode )
  6. Cursos Vocacionais (Professional Courses)

Of the six options, the most commonly chosen are 1 and 4 .

However, secondary education is organized differently. Since this is a pre-college education, students must choose an area of ​​education to enroll in so there is no uniformity in the content that is taught to all students. Assessment is now performed on a linear scale of 1 to 20 values ​​(also using decimal values, e.g. 10.1 or 18.3), with passing a course implying a score of 9.5 or higher (as this Score is rounded down to 10 values).

Cursos Científico-Humanísticos

The natural science-humanistic courses ( cursos Científico-Humanísticos ) represent an educational offer that is geared towards the pursuit of higher-level studies. They are aimed at students who have completed the 9th grade or equivalent training.

They have a duration of 3 school years, corresponding to the 10th, 11th and 12th grade, and award a diploma de conclusão do Ensino Secundário (= 12th grade diploma / Abitur).

There are four scientific-humanistic courses:

  1. Science and Technology Course (formerly Scientific and Natural Science);
  2. Course for art ;
  3. Course for socio-economic sciences (former course Business);
  4. Course in languages ​​and humanities .

Integrate the curricula of the courses:

  • The general training component that is common to all four courses and is intended to help build the personal, social and cultural identity of young people. It consists of the following topics:
    • Portuguese ;
    • Foreign language I, II or III (German, Spanish, French or English);
    • Philosophy ;
    • Physical education .
  • The specific training component aimed at providing scientific training in the field of the particular course. The topics of this training depend on the respective course:
    • A compulsory three-year course (10th, 11th and 12th year);
    • Two biennial subjects (10th and 11th year) to be chosen from the range of options for each course, both of which are compulsory related to its type;
    • Two annual subjects (12th year) to be selected from the options of each course.
  • The subject of moral and religious instruction, which can be attended optionally.

Exames Nacionais

National exams

The students of the scientific-humanistic courses have to take four national exams:

  • In 11th grade :
    • On two biennial topics of the specific training component or on one of the biennial topics of the specific training component and on the philosophy component of the general training component, depending on the student's choice.
  • In 12th grade :
    • Portuguese
    • three-year subjects (foreign language I, II or III (German, Spanish, French or English); philosophy; physical education)

These national tests are taken into account when calculating the final classification of the subject with a weight of 30%. The remaining 70% is determined by the simple arithmetic mean of the grades obtained in the 2/3 years in which the student studied the subject in question.

Access to higher education requires exams already taken in secondary school, and there is no need to take additional entrance exams.

Cursos Profissionais

The Agência Nacional para a Qualificação eo Ensino Profissional, IP , is responsible for vocational training (c ursos Profissionais ) in Portugal .

The vocational courses, which are characterized by a strong connection with the professional world, represent an educational offer aimed at developing skills for the practice of a profession in connection with the local economic sector.

They are generally stated as being more suitable for students who are aiming for a more practical and labor market-oriented education, while on the other hand the possibility of continuing their studies is not excluded.

The curriculum includes three training components, which include the specified topics:

  • Socio-cultural :
    • Portuguese
    • Foreign language I, II or III (German, Spanish, French or English);
    • Computer science classes;
    • Physical education.
  • Scientific :
    • 2 to 3 subjects (in the respective training area)
  • Technically :
    • 3 to 4 subjects (in the respective training area)

These courses culminate in the presentation of a project called the Prova de Aptidão Profissional (PAP) , in which students demonstrate the skills and knowledge developed during the course.

The vocational courses are spread across 39 training areas, which are listed on the ANQEP website.

Higher education

The higher education system in Portugal is divided into two main types:

University higher education

University teaching is geared towards research and the creation of scientific and cultural knowledge.

Doutoramento (doctorate)

3 years or more

Maestrado (Master)

1-2 years

Licenciatura (Bachelor)

2-3 years

Polytechnic higher education

Polytechnic training is geared towards applied research and the creation of professional knowledge.

Maestrado (Master)

1-2 years

Licenciatura (Bachelor)

2-3 years

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Governo de Portugal. Retrieved May 9, 2020 .
  2. ^ Governo de Portugal. Retrieved May 9, 2020 .
  3. Diário da República Eletrônico: ANEXO I (escala a que se se referem os artigos 14.º, n.º 4, e 18.º, n.º 9). In: dge.mec.pt/. governo português, accessed May 9, 2020 (Portuguese).
  4. dge.mec.pt: Ensino basico. In: Diário da República, 1.ª série - N.º 65 - 4 de abril de 2016. Diário da República, accessed on 9 May 2020 (Portuguese).
  5. http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/6/
  6. Cursos Científico-Humanísticos (OF) | Direção-Geral da Educação. Retrieved May 9, 2020 .
  7. ANQEP
  8. ANQEP