The Greek Education System


The Greek Education System

The Greek Education System

A short introduction

The Greek Educational System consists of three successive levels: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education level. Education in Greece is compulsory for all children 6-15 years old; namely, it includes Primary (Dimotiko) and Lower Secondary (Gymnasio) Education.

The school life of the students can start from the age of 2.5 years (pre-school education) in institutions (private and public) called "Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmi" (creches). In some Vrefonipiakoi Stathmoi there are also Nipiaka Tmimata (nursery classes) which operate along with the Nipiagogeia (kindergartens).

Attendance in Nipiagogeia (Kindergartens) (ISCED 0) is optional, and it is addressed to children from the age of four to six years and lasts one or two years as a preparatory stage which contributes to integrating the children in the Primary school system. Nipiagogeia operate either independently or share premises with Dimotika Scholeia (Primary Schools). Most Nipiagogeia are state-run, but there are also private ones. Attendance in state Nipiagogeia is provided free of charge. At the same time, Oloimera Nipiagogeia (All-day Kindergartens) operate with an extended timetable (at least 8 hours per day).

Primary level
Primary Education (ISCED 1) is provided in Primary Schools (Dimotiko), public or private. Public Primary Schools exist all over the country even in the most remote regions. Attendance at Primary Education (Dimotiko) is compulsory, lasts for six years (corresponding to six grades), and children are admitted at the age of 6. Public education and schoolbooks are provided free of charge. All-day primary schools (Oloimero) are also in operation, with an extended timetable and an enriched Curriculum.

The basic goal of the Dimotiko (Primary school) is to ensure the children's all-round, harmonious and balanced mental and physical development.
Besides there are special schools and induction courses for children with special education needs. Finally, since 1996 is adopted Multicultural Education designed to meet the educational needs of social groups with a particular social, cultural or religious identity.

Primary school comes to an end on completion of the sixth class and the pupils are given a study certificate which is forwarded to the local Gymnasium by official channels so that they can continue their education there.

Secondary level

Secondary Education in Greece is divided into two levels: compulsory (lower) Secondary Education and post-compulsory (upper) Secondary Education.

Compulsory Secondary Education (ISCED2)
is provided in Gymnasio. Attendance in Gymnasio lasts for 3 years and addresses 12-15 years old pupils. Education at Gymnasio level is designed to promote the pupils' all-round development with reference to the abilities which they have at that age and the demands which life puts on them.

Assessment is based on day to day oral tests and the general involvement of the pupil in the learning process, on short written tests, on written tests given without warning during the school year and, finally, on written examinations at the end of the school year. At the end of the school year pupils who fail certain subjects must take a repeat examination in September. Pupils leaving the Gymnasiums are given a leaving certificate which entitles them to move on to higher-level secondary education.

Post-compulsory (Upper) Secondary Education (ISCED 3)
according to the reform of 1997, involves two types of schools: Eniaio Lykeio (Unified Lyceum) and Techniko Epaggelmatiko Ekpaideftirio - TEE (Technical Vocational Educational School). The duration of studies in Eniaia Lykeia is three years and in the Technical Vocational Educational Schools (TEE) two years (a' level) or three years (b' level). Mutual student transfer from one type of school to the other is possible, while mutual shifts from one type to the other do occur. Apart from day Secondary Schools there is also Esperino (Evening) Gymnasio, Lykeio and TEE.
The Ministry of Education has overall responsibility for course development and approval, and also supervises most of these schools. Certain TEE are supervised by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Development. These TEE provide vocational training and education in specialisations corresponding to the relative ministries. There are also private TEE.

In parallel with ordinary primary and secondary level education schools there are also special pre-school, primary, lower level secondary and higher level secondary education schools for special groups of students, 26 intercultural schools operate for foreigners and ex-patriates pupils, 232 minority schools for pupils from the Muslim minority of Thrace and around 250 independent special schools operate for children with special needs. In the upper levels of secondary education there are equivalent “Pilot” schools in operation (in co-operation with universities), “Music” schools (with emphasis on music) and “Ecclesiastical” schools (with emphasis on religious education) and “Sports Departments” (with emphasis on sports).

In State compulsory and post-compulsory Secondary Education schools, attendance is free of charge and text books are distributed free of charge by the state.

Post-compulsory Secondary Education
also includes the Vocational Training Institutes (IEK), which provide formal but unclassified level of education (ISCED 4). These Institutes are not classified as an educational level, because they accept both Gymnasio (lower secondary school) and Lykeio (upper secondary school) graduates according to the relevant specializations they provide.

Compared with courses at Technical Vocational Schools (TEE), IEK courses are work oriented and linked to the demands of the labour market. They are designed by tripartite teams of experts (state, employers and employees). Trainees are provided with a certificate of vocational training, which gives them the right to participate in the final accreditation examinations.

Tertiary level

Tertiary education (ISCED 5) is provided in two parallel sectors: the university sector and the higher technological sector. Courses at tertiary level institutes last for 8-12 semesters. Students are admitted to these Institutes according to their performance at national level examinations taking place at the third grade of Lykeio. Postgraduate courses (ISCED 6) are also available at Tertiary education level.

University Education: The mission of University Education is to ensure a high level of theoretical and all-round training for the future scientific workforce. The University Education system includes the Universities (AEI), the Polytechnics, the Higher Fine Arts Institute and the Hellenic Open University.

Higher Technological Education: The role of Higher Technological Education, which includes Technological Education Institutes (TEI), is to contribute to the country's development and to progress in the fields of science and applied research. The focus is on the absorption and transfer of scientific data into the production process. The courses are more practically oriented than in the Universities. Higher Technological Education also includes ASPAITE, the Higher School of Pedagogical and Technical Education. studies. Graduates of a Master course or a diploma study are entitled to enrol in doctoral studies at universities.

Tertiary level education also includes the Hellenic Open University and certain other non-university schools for which a special admission system applies. These schools are of unclassified level and the duration of studies ranges from two to four years.  Graduates of these schools can either work in their area of specialisation as professionals or as teachers, or continue their studies via examinations in corresponding tertiary education schools.

The Hellenic Open University
provides an opportunity for open and distance learning. The HOU's basic mission is to provide greater educational opportunities to a wide spectrum of interested parties and age groups, on the assumption that education is a lifelong entitlement.

Higher Education (non University): The Higher Education System also includes various institutes which provide vocational training in the field of religion, art, tourism, the navy, the army and public order. More specifically, these include the Higher Ecclesiastical Institutes, the Merchant Marine Academy, the Higher Institute of Dance and Dramatic Art, the Higher Tourist Training Institutes, the Ηigher NCO Institutes of the Ministry of National Defence, and the Police Academy.

Continuing vocational training
Continuing vocational training includes all vocational training and further training activities organised outside the formal initial vocational training and education system. The purpose of continuing vocational training is to maintain, refresh, upgrade and modernise the job skills of persons seeking employment and to help workers interested in career development. Continuing vocational training in Greece is provided by a plethora of bodies which focus on specific population groups and are supervised by various Ministries. The existing institutional framework focuses on four categories: Training of the unemployed, Training of private-sector workers, Training of wider public sector workers, Training of socially disadvantaged groups.

The vocational training programmes are short-term and the number of hours of tuition depends on the subject, the content of the curriculum and the group to whom the programme is addressed. The programmes include theoretical training and practical exercises in firms; the trainees are subsidised for the duration of the programme.

In Greece, the public and private sector agencies which organise and provide continuing vocational training programmes are the Vocational Training Centres (KEK), which are accredited by the National Centre for the Accreditation of Vocational Training Structures and Accompanying Support Services (EKEPIS).

Selected statistical data

Surface in km² 131,957
Population, number of inhabitants per km² 10,934,097 / 83 (2001)
Proportion of population in towns (in %) 65.7
Population growth (in % p.a.) 0.3
GDP in million € 167,169 (market prices 2004)
GDP per capita (in  €) 15,119 (market prices 2004)
GDP growth (in %) +4.7 (constant prices 2000)
Inflation rate (in %) 3.0 (2004)
Unemployment rate (in %) 9.6 (2005)
Youth unemployment rate below the age of 25 years old (in %) 25.7 (2002)
Distribution of upper secondary level (ISCED 3) students by programme orientation (general or vocational) General: 60%
Vocational: 40%
Share of education and training expenses in the GDP (in %) 3.9 (2001)
Unemployment rates by age group and by level of qualification (2002) High (ISCED 5-6)  
25-34: 13.0%
35-44:   3.4%
Intermediate (ISCED 3-4)          
25-34: 14.0%
35-44:   8.1% 
45-54:   4.7%
Low  (ISCED 0-2)
25-34: 12.0%
35-44:   8.2%
45-54:   6.8%
55-64:   3.8%