Greek families have always placed a high value on education, which is the right of every citizen and is provided by the Greek state from kindergarten to the university level. Greek people have reached a very high level of education (56% of Greeks in their third decade have had tertiary education). The country sends more students abroad to study, per capita, than any other country in the world. European and American Universities boast large numbers of students from Greece, many of whom achieve high academic success.
The Greek Educational System
The Greek educational system is divided into three levels, namely primary, secondary and tertiary, with an additional post-secondary level providing vocational training. Education in Greece, including pre-school, primary and lower secondary education, is compulsory for all children 6 to 15 years old. The Greek educational system is under the supervision of the Hellenic Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs (YPEPTH).
Primary and Secondary Education
Primary education is divided into kindergarten lasting one or two years, and primary school (Demotiko) lasting six years, where children are admitted at the age of six. Lower secondary (Gymnasio) schooling is based on a wide curriculum aiming to provide subject-specific knowledge and to prepare pupils for the role of citizens in society. Upper secondary education includes two types of schools in which schooling lasts three years: the Unified Upper Secondary School (Eniaio Lykeio) and the Technical Vocational School (TEE). There are public and private school units of all levels and types of primary and secondary education.
Alongside mainstream schools of primary and secondary education, there are also special-orientation schools (like music, ecclesiastical and athletic lower and upper secondary schools). In addition, programs of intercultural education are provided to repatriated students of Greek origin and to students of foreign or gipsy origin, while minority schools are established for the education of the Muslim minority of Thrace. Last but not least, there are also experimental schools functioning under the supervision of Universities applying experimental methods of teaching.
Higher Education institutions in Greece are fully self-administered legal entities under public law, funded and supervised by the Hellenic Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs in accordance with Provision 16 of the Constitution. Public higher education is divided into Universities and Polytechnics (AEI), Technological Education Institutes (TEI) and Academies which primarily cater for the military and the clergy. Admission to tertiary education is based on a student’s performance in national level examinations taking place at the end of the third year of upper secondary education.
Undergraduate courses last typically 4 years (5 in polytechnics and some technical/art schools, and 6 in medical schools); postgraduate courses last from 1 to 2 years and doctorates from 3 to 6 years. Additionally, students are admitted to the Hellenic Open University upon the completion of the 22nd year of age by drawing lots.
All levels of education are catered for by both private and public schools. Public schools and universities do not charge tuition fees and textbooks are provided free to all students. There are also a number of private tutor schools, colleges and universities operating alongside the state education and providing supplementary tuition.