6.1 General context
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Compulsory education in Greece lasts 11 years and spans from 4 to 15 years. Primary education (Kindergarten, Primary School) is compulsory, as well as the first cycle of secondary education (Junior High School). The second cycle of secondary education (Upper Secondary General and Vocational high schools) is non-compulsory.
Early school leaving or school dropout is defined as ′the total number of young people, aged 18-24, who have completed at most the lower secondary school cycle and are not found in an education or training structure′.
According to the European Union's Developmental Strategy Europe 2020, the aim is to reduce early school leaving rates below 10% and increase the percentage of young people aged 30-34 to complete higher education by 40%. The National Strategic Objectives in relation to the counterparts of "Europe 2020" strategy were transformed into 9.7% and 32% respectively. These objectives were integrated in the National Reform Program for Greece and in the Partnership Agreement (PA) 2014-2020.
As mentioned in the Thematic Bulletin of the European Semester, the rates of early school leaving remain below the 10% target of "Europe 2020" and the national target of 6.2% in 2016.
The Institute of Educational Policy (IEP) has established the "Observatory", with the responsibility of monitoring, recording and processing data for the most effective response to the phenomenon of early school leaving. The Institute published a study on student dropout during the years 2013-2016.
At the same time, there is an increase in the percentage of young people, aged 30-34, holding a degree in higher education, with the rate of 23.0% in 2003 amounting to 37.2% in 2014. The annual increase for the period 2003-2014 is stated in the publication of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) entitled "Living Conditions in Greece".
Regarding youth mobility, the Erasmus+ program for the period 2021-2027, with a budget of 28 billion euros, concerns the sectors of Education, Training, Youth and Sports. The Youth and Lifelong Learning Foundation (INEDIVIM) is defined by Ministerial Decision as a National Organization/National Coordination Unit of the Erasmus+ program addressing the Youth and Sports sectors. For the fields of Education and Training, the National Coordination Unit is the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY).
The main actions of the Erasmus+ program are:
- Learning mobility of individuals
o Supporting the mobility of people abroad for studies, work, educational work and development of professional qualifications and skills
- Cooperation between organizations and institutions
- Support for policy reforms
o Utilizing good practices and innovative actions as tools for education policy reform
The Erasmus+ program is open to students of all levels of education, students in Vocational Education and Training institutions, students of Higher Education Institutions. In addition, trainees in the field of Adult Education and recent graduates can also participate, if they have applied, while they were registered in their institution. At the same time, in the field of Youth, informal groups of young people, aged 13-30 years old, can take part.
The National Organization for the Certification of Qualifications & Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) is the body responsible for the development of the National Qualifications Framework and its alignment with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The National Qualifications Framework provides a single and unique tool through which all qualifications can be described and classified.
According to a survey by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) concerning the year 2018/2019, the enrolled undergraduate students in Greek Universities are 489.238. The number of students enrolled in postgraduate programs is 78.518 and the number of doctoral candidates is 30.671. The number of undergraduate students who received a degree is 38.460, of respective number of postgraduate students is 19.106 and that of doctoral students is 1.774.
According to a different report by ELSTAT, the number of enrolled undergraduate students, during the academic year 2019/2020, increased by 1.5% compared to the previous year.
An important challenge of the education system of Greece is the integration of children with immigrant background. Ensuring the right of newly arrived refugee children in Greece has been a key concern of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs for the period 2016-2017. During the school year 2018-2019 the total number of refugee students at all levels of education is 12.867. Refugee integration policies and actions will be discussed further in section 6.6.
Education in Greece is comprised of primary, secondary, tertiary education, in the context of formal learning.
The secondary education is divided into compulsory, which concerns junior high school and non-compulsory, which is senior high school, while there is also the post-secondary vocational education and training. Alongside, the option to continue studying in post-secondary vocational training is offered.
At the same time, informal learning is distinct, which concerns the learning activities that take place outside the organized educational context, throughout the life of man. Lifelong Learning also includes Lifelong Learning Centers, which are providers of services in the framework of non-formal learning.
The main pillar, through which the readability and comparability of Greek titles and qualifications is enhanced, is the National Qualifications Framework. It is divided into eight sub-levels of qualifications, which are analyzed as follows:
- Level 1: Primary school diploma
- Level 2: Junior High school diploma
- Level 3: Vocational Education and Training Degree, Degree of Vocational Schools (EPAS) of Apprenticeship of OAED (Labour Employment Organization)
- Level 4: General Senior High School Diploma, Vocational High School Diploma, Vocational Degrees, Education and Training Level 4
- Level 5: Higher School Diploma/Degree, Vocational Diploma, Education and Training Level 5, Vocational Degree Level 5
- Level 6: Higher Education Degree
- Level 7: Postgraduate Specialization Diploma
- Level 8: Doctoral Degree
Compulsory education officially lasts 11 years from the ages of 4 to 15 years.
Secondary Education offers two three-year cycles (stages) of education – Gymnasio (lower/junior secondary education which is mandatory) and Lykeio (upper/senior secondary general education which is optional). Compulsory formal education, i.e. junior high school, ends at the age of 15.
The first stage of formal education for the age group of young people 15-29, is Lyceum (senior high school). High schools are divided into general and vocational. The duration of studies is 3 years and students enroll at the age of 15.
In addition to that, there are evening general senior high schools as well as evening vocational high schools.
Higher education is the highest stage of the Greek formal education system. It concerns studies in the university sector and specifically:
- Polytechnic Schools
- School of Fine Arts
and the technology industry:
- School of Pedagogical and Technological Education (ASPAITE)
Higher education is divided into undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies. Depending on the institution, the undergraduate studies last 4 years, the postgraduate studies 2 years, while the doctoral studies last at least 3 calendar years.
Lifelong Learning (LL) in Greece is structured through law 4763/2020. It concerns all forms of learning activities throughout human life, aimed at acquiring or developing knowledge, skills and abilities. It includes formal education, non-formal and informal learning. Adult Education and Training (AET) is the part of Lifelong Learning that concerns organized, formal or non-formal learning offered to adults.
The Strategic Policy Framework for the Reduction of Early School Leaving (ESL) in Greece states that there is no official definition of Early School Dropout in Greece, but the standard Eurostat definition is used. According to this regulation, Early School Leaving concerns young people, aged 18-24, who have completed, at most, the lower cycle of secondary education and are outside the structure of education or training. At the same time, it is reported that other national definitions apply, related to what is considered as compulsory education in Greece.
The Strategic Plan for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth 2022-2024 of the General Secretariat for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth, dated January 2022, provides the following official definitions:
Formal learning: it is regulated at the national level, it takes place in an organized and structured environment specifically dedicated to learning, leads to the recognition of qualifications usually in the form of a certificate or diploma. It includes the systems of general and vocational education, initial vocational training and higher education.
Non-formal learning: refers to learning that takes place through planned activities in relation to learning objectives and learning time and in which there is some form of learning support. It may cover programs regarding the transmission of work-related skills, adult literacy and basic education for those leaving school early.
Informal learning: the learning activities that take place beyond an organized educational framework, throughout a person's life, in the context of leisure or professional, social and cultural activities. It includes all kinds of self-education activities, such as self-education through printed material or through the internet or using a computer or various educational infrastructures, as well as the knowledge, skills and abilities that the individual acquires from his professional experience.
National Qualifications Framework: the qualification ranking framework in the form of learning outcomes, according to a set of criteria for achieving learning levels, which aims to integrate into a single whole and to coordinate the national qualifications subsystems.
Apprenticeship: Vocational Education and Training programs, which combine learning in Education or Training Institutions with substantive work-based learning in the workplace of the private or public and wider public sector, at a rate of at least fifty percent (50%), recognized qualifications, are based on an agreement setting out the rights and obligations of the apprentice, the employer and, where appropriate, the Vocational Education and Training Institution, and provide a fee or subsidy at work.
Typical education system: includes primary and secondary education, Schools of Second Chance (SCS), post-secondary Vocational Education and Training level three (3), post-secondary Vocational Training level five (5) and higher education.