The Portuguese Educational System I – Public System

The Portuguese Educational System is divided into different levels of education, essentially sequential. It starts in Pre-school Education, with a cycle of optional attendance from 3 to 6 years of age. The frequency of pre-school education is optional, recognizing the family’s first role in the education of children, However, its universality is enshrined for children from 4 years of age onwards (Law No. 65/2015, of July 3). The national pre-school education network is made up of the public network and the private network (for-profit and non-profit). The educational offer for children between 0 and 3 years of age is not part of the system educational, not being the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, but of the Ministry Labor, Solidarity, and Social Security. The answers babysitter, Creche and Creche Family consists of the existing offer for children of this age group.


Pre-school education is considered the first stage of the education system. It has a formative role and complements family education with which it must establish close cooperation. It is optional for children from 3 years old and up entering compulsory education. It is universal for all children, from 4 years of age, which means that the State must guarantee, for this age group, the existence of a free pre-school education network that allows the enrollment of all the children.

Basic – 1st Cycle

It continues with Basic Education, which comprises three sequential cycles. The 1st cycle of 4 years (expected age of attendance, from 6 to 10 years old), is organized in curricular areas: disciplinary (includes the disciplines of Expression Artistic / Motor; Middle study; Portuguese Language and Mathematics), non-disciplinary (includes the areas of Project Area; Accompanied Study and Civic Training) and subjects of optional attendance (includes the discipline of Moral Education and Religious).

Basic – 2nd Cycle

The 2nd cycle of 2 years (expected age of attendance, from 10 to 12 years old), corresponding to CITE 1, is organized into curricular areas: disciplinary (encompasses the areas of Languages ​​and Social Studies – Portuguese, Foreign Language and History and Geography of Portugal -; Mathematics and Natural Sciences; Artistic Education and Technological – Visual and Technological Education, Music Education and Physical Education -; and optionally, personal and social training – Moral and Religious Education) and non-disciplinary (encompasses the areas of Project Area; Accompanied Study; Training Civic.

Basic – 3rd Cycle

And the 3rd cycle with a duration of 3 years (expected age of attendance, 12 years old at 15 years of age), corresponding to CITE 2. It is also organized in areas curricular: disciplinary (Portuguese Language; Foreign Language (LE1 + LE2); Sciences Human and Social – History and Geography -; Mathematics; Natural and Physical Sciences Chemistry; Visual education; another discipline – Musical Education, Theater or Dance-; Technological Education; PE; Introduction to ICT (9th year); Personal Training and social; and optional Moral and Religious Education) and non-Disciplinary (Area of Project; Accompanied Study; Civic formation).

Each of the Cycles completes and deepends the previous one, therefore, there must be a solid articulation between all.


Vocational courses in basic education are aimed at students from the age of 13 age with two holds in the same cycle or more than two holds in cycles different, throughout their school career.

These courses are organized in modules and have the collaboration of different companies, institutions, and entities, based in the same geographic area of ​​the school, which, in partnership, offer moments of simulated practice, appropriate to the age of students or they even contribute to the teaching of modules of the vocational component.

Vocational courses are equivalent to the 6th or 9th year of schooling but are not confer professional certification.

Secondary Level

Secondary education follows, which corresponds to a cycle of three years, (age expected frequency, from 15 to 18 years of age), corresponding to CITE3 and includes seven types of courses: Scientific-Humanistic Courses, Professional Courses, Courses Specialized Artistic Courses, Courses with their plans (Scientific-Technological Courses), Youth Education and Training Courses.

Secondary vocational courses are designed for students aged 16 and over, namely those who are at risk of dropping out of school, and who, despite have succeeded in basic education, they want a more technical offer than allow them a concrete professional exit.

Higher Education

Higher education is organized into Higher University education that grants degrees Licentiate, Master and Doctor, and Higher Polytechnic education that confers the degrees of Licensee and Master.

Higher education is structured according to the Bologna principles and is directed at students who have completed Secondary Education or who have a legally equivalent qualification.

CITE 4 corresponds to post-secondary non-higher education, while CITE 5 corresponds to a short-term Higher Education program.

Other Models

There are also special School Education Modalities. They are Education Special; Vocational Training; Adult Education; Distance learning; and Teaching Portuguese abroad.

For more information on the structure of the Portuguese education system, consult the publications The Structure of the European Education Systems 2019/20: Schematic Diagrams at and Compulsory Education in Europe – 2019/20 in E2% 80% 93-201920_en.

In the Portuguese educational system, there are teaching modalities that aim to ensure the fulfillment of compulsory schooling, as well as allowing the continuation of studies for students in primary and secondary education who, for reasons of a different nature, are prevented from attending school, namely home education and individual education. Domestic education and individual education aim to respond to families who, for reasons of professional mobility or strictly personal nature, intend to assume greater responsibility for the education of their children or schoolchildren, choosing to teach them outside the school context.

Domestic education and individual education are regulated by Ordinance No. 69/2019, February 26th ( This standard defines the rules and procedures relating to enrollment and attendance, as well as the monitoring and certification of learning, because of the Student Profile Leaving Compulsory Education.

Ordinance No. 69/2019, of February 26, paragraphs a) and b), article 3, as well as Decree-Law Law No. 152/2013, of November 4 (, points a) and b), paragraph 2, article 3, define the concept of individual education as that which is taught by a qualified teacher to a single student outside a school teaching, and home education as that which is taught at the student’s home by a relative or person who lives with him.

Responsibility for the training path of students at home and in education individual is the respective guardian, or himself when he is older. The students covered by home and individual education are subject to the assessment and certification of learning, because of the Profile of Students on Exit Mandatory Schooling, and by the regulations in force, Decree-Law no. 139/2012, of July 5 (, in its wording current, Decree-Law nº 55/2018, of July 6 (, Ordinance No. 223-A / 2018, of August 3, ( and Ordinance No. 226-A / 2018, of August 7 (

According to Article 194 of the State Budget Law for 2019, in the academic year 2019/2020, the free manuals regime is extended to all students who attend compulsory schooling in the public network of the Ministry of Education.

Useful links:

Directorate-General for Education ( – For information on the educational offer of secondary education that gives only school certification, namely the study plans of the Scientific-Humanistic Courses.

National Agency for Qualification and Professional Education ( -For information on dual certification offers for young people (school and professional courses), such as Professional Courses, Education, and Training Courses, Apprenticeship, Specialized Art Teaching Courses and Specialization Courses Technological.

Institute of Employment and Professional Training ( – To obtain information on Learning Courses. They are double certification courses, in alternation, level 4, protected by IEFP, IP. They aim to qualify young people (from 15 to 25 years), privilege their insertion in the labor market, and allow the continuation of studies.

Directorate-General for Higher Education ( – For more information on access to higher education, the higher education network (universities, institutes and the courses they offer), scholarships, and mobility in Europe and the international cooperation. It also provides information on post-secondary pathways.

School manuals (

Eurydice ( – The Eurydice publishes descriptions of the various European education systems, reports comparatives related to specific topics, indicators and statistics, as well as such as news, and articles related to the educational field.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *