The legal basis for education in Poland is laid down in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland which states that:
- every person has the right to education
- education is compulsory until the age of 18
- education in public schools is free of charge
- parents are free to choose schools other than public schools for their children
- public authorities shall provide citizens with general and equal access to education.
The main state bodies responsible for the education system in Poland are the Ministry of National Education (Ministerstwo Edukacji Narodowej) and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego).
Full-time compulsory education (to be received in school) covers children and young people aged 6–16 years, whereas part-time compulsory education (to be provided either at school or at the employers’ premises) concerns young people aged 16–18 years. Full-time compulsory education includes the final year of pre-primary education, 6-year primary education and 3-year lower-secondary education. Nursery schools (przedszkole) and primary schools (szkoła podstawowa) are administered by commune (gmina) authorities. Upper-secondary schools, which are not compulsory, are attended by the vast majority of the population in the age group 16–19/20 years and are administered by district (powiat) authorities. Autonomous higher education institutions offer mainly first-, second- and third-cycle programmes (long-cycle Master’s degree programmes are available only in a few fields of study). Adult education is provided by public and non-public schools for adults, public and non-public HEIs, continuing education centres, practical training centres and further and in-service training centres.