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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 28 November 2023
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The XXII Constitutional Government of Portugal, in the Government's Programme for the four-year term of 2019-2023, established as one of its priorities the investment in people.

In the field of education and training, this priority involves providing conditions of equal access and opportunities to access education and training, in particular through:

  • Promoting success at school, and guaranteeing 12 years of education;
  • Investing in adult education and lifelong learning;
  • The modernisation, qualification and diversification of higher education.

The achievement of these goals implies the implementation of specific political measures by the Ministry of Education (ME) in order to promote school success and a successful integration of young adults in the society of the 21st century.

As part of the 22nd Constitutional Government Program, improving the quality of education for all is a priority, establishing as one of the strategic challenges the struggle against Inequalities, through more and better opportunities for all, without discrimination. Aiming at a quality of education for all, school must offer the most appropriate educational responses to each student, according to their needs and potential, increasing the quality of educational success and, consequently, developing more effectively the future human capital of society.

Such educational responses include the development of measures aimed at reducing retention and early school leaving, particularly in primary and lower secondary education, in which grade repetition is intended to be extinguished through intensive and differentiated work with students with lower performance and more education needs , including the early diagnosis of these difficulties (Pre-School Education).

Within the scope of the priorities defined in Government's Programme for the area of education, Portugal defined the Student’s Profile by the end of compulsory schooling, which presents a vision of what young people are expected to achieve. The vision for the students to achieve integrates several purposes that are reinforced by a schooling model aiming the individual qualifications and the democratic citizenship.

As one of the strategies defined by the current government, the schools´autonomy was reinforced regarding the curriculum flexibility according to their specific needs and opportunities by means of the issuing of the Decree-Law 55/2018, 6th July.

This Decree-Law sets out the curriculum for primary and secondary education, the guiding principles for the design, implementation and evaluation of the learning process to ensure that every student acquires the knowledge and develops the skills and attitudes which contribute to the achievement of the competences outlined in the Students’ Profile by the End of Compulsory Schooling.

In this view, schools are given the opportunity to manage up to 25% of the curriculum, fostering interdisciplinary and collaborative work, PBL methodologies and fostering deeper learning respecting every school specific context. 

To support and monitor the implementation of this curriculum autonomy and flexibility in all state schools there are regional teams with members from different organisms of the ME to provide a proximity relation and enable better learning for all.

Ordinance181/2019, 11th June - This Ordinance allows state and private schools, according to their autonomy and flexibility, to manage more than 25 % of the curriculum aiming at the implementation of innovation plans to be validated by the Ministry of Education. This measure has been in place since the school year 2019-2020.

Simultaneously, to address the issue of curriculum overload, Portugal developed a process of curriculum redesign and the core curriculum competences/essential learning per school year/subject  have been concluded by the various teachers’ associations and societies within a collaborative work with the DGE/ME and in line with what has been developed in the Student’s Profile.

These core curriculum competences have been extended to vocational courses and another ongoing project is in place - MAIA project – aiming at the alignment of assessment with core curriculum competences and the Students’ Profile.

Also within the scope of the priorities defined in the Government's Programme and resulting from a proposal elaborated and presented by the working group on education for citizenship, the National Citizenship Education Strategy (ENEC) was produced. It is a reference document implemented since the 2017/2018 school year, in convergence with both the student’s profile at the end of 12 years of compulsory scholling and the core curriculum competences/essential learning.


On the other hand, the policy against school failure focuses also on investing in preschool education, in particular by expanding the preschool education network, because these two factors are considered to be highly important to the quality improvement of students' learning. Therefore, the Curriculum Guidelines for Pre-School Education were approved in July 2016.

The National Programme for School Success Promotion (PNPSE) also focuses on the development of public policies in all cycles and levels of education, but with particular emphasis on basic education, as a result of the school failure increase in this cycle of education in recent years, and in the sense of combating school failure at its root. The purpose of this Programme is to promote a quality education for all, combat school failure, in a valorisation framework for equal opportunities and the increase of the effectiveness and quality of public schools. The main objective is to ensure that all children and young people complete the compulsory education with a quality education, supported by a wide variety of learnings.


The valorisation of secondary education and the diversification of training offering imply the valorisation of vocational education - investment in its expansion and centrality, in social valorisation and in the recognition of this type of education.

The promotion of a quality of education for all implies the application of all the measures and projects with a holistic view, based in an all school approach.

A greater coordination between the three cycles of basic education is promoted through a greater diversification and curricular flexibility, which, as a result, puts a stop to the curriculum reduction that has been occurring in this cycle in recent years. In terms of upper-secondary education, the valorisation and the diversification of the education and training offers will pass by improving the quality of the scientific-humanistic courses and by valuing professional education and training, by investing on its expansion and centrality, on its social appreciation and on the recognition of this educational pathway.

Within the scope of higher education, it relies on its modernisation and diversification, by contributing to a greater democratisation in the access to higher education, in particular through emphasising social action and international mobility programmes, investment in culture, science and knowledge, promotion of quality, restructuring of networks and adequacy of the training offering, and internationalisation, including international mobility programs.

In young people and adult education and training, the Qualifica programme intends to fill a gap in the qualifications of adults, which occurred after the cancellation of the New Opportunities programme.

In Portugal, the Ministry of Education (ME) is responsible for the development and coordination of the education system for basic and secondary education and pre-school education alike, and has as mission to articulate, within the population’s qualification national policies, the national policy of education and the national policy of vocational training, along with the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Insurance (MTSSS).

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) is responsible for higher education.

The Basic Law of the Education System , approved by Law no. 46/86, of 14th October (amended by Law no. 115/97, of 19th September, Law no. 49/2005, of 30th August, and Law no. 85/2009, of 27th August), establishes the general framework for the education system and the way it is structured and organised, enshrining the right of all Portuguese people to have access to education and culture.

In the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and the Azores, the administration of education is the  responsibility of the respective regional governments. The Ministy of Science and Hight Education has the tutelage of universities.


Main players and the regional and central level

Under the authority of the  ME and the MCTES there are the following central services:

The General Secretariat of Education and Science (SGEC): aims to ensure specialised technical support to members of the Government of the ME and the MCTES and other bodies, services and agencies of the sectors of education and science, in the fields of legal support, resolution of conflicts and disputes, employment systems and work relations, management of human, financial, technological and heritage resources, public procurement, European affairs and international relationships, as well as the quality policy of information and communication.

The General Inspection of Education and Science (IGEC): its function is to monitor, control, evaluate and audit the educational and teaching establishments of all cycles of education, including those from higher education, public, private, cooperative and solidarity networks, and European schools, in order to ensure social confidence in education and to inform policymakers and the public opinion. It also includes establishments in special modalities of education, extracurricular education, science and technology and of the bodies, offices and agencies of the ME and the MCTES.

The Directorate-General of Education (DGE): central service under direct management of the State, under the tutelage of the Ministry of Education, endowed with administrative autonomy, responsible for the implementation of policies relating to the pedagogical and didactical components of preschool education, basic and secondary education and extracurricular education, and for the technical support in the elaboration of said policies, including curriculum development, teaching and evaluation instruments, and support and educational complements.

The Directorate-General for Higher Education (DGES): central service under direct management of the State, under the tutelage of Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, whose mission is to ensure the design, implementation and coordination of policies for higher education.

The Directorate-General of School Administration (DGAE): central service under direct administration of the State, under the tutelage of the Ministry of Education, with responsibilities in the field of human resources management in the area of education, public schools, private education, cooperative and solidarity education in national territory and national schools based abroad, in particular: recruitment and selection; management of careers; qualification; and training.

The Directorate-General for Education and Science Statistics (DGEEC): central service under direct administration of the State, endowed with administrative autonomy, which aims to ensure the production and statistical analysis of education and science, technically supporting the elaboration of education policies, and to evaluate the results obtained by the educational, scientific and technological systems, in conjunction with the other services of the ME and MCTES.

The Institute of Education’s Financial Management (IGeFE, I.P.): its mission is to ensure the programming, financial management and the strategic and operational planning of the ME, among other duties of regulation and budgetary management of schools.

The Directorate-General for Schools (DGEsE): central service under direct management of the State, which mission is to manage tasks for the ME and its central services, ensuring the guidance, coordination and monitoring of schools and support and information to users of the educational system. It consists of five regional organic units: Directorate of Services in the Northern Region, Directorate of Services in the Centre Region, Directorate of Services in the Region of Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Directorate of Services in the Region of Alentejo and Directorate of Services in the Region of Algarve, which are based, respectively, in Oporto, Coimbra, Lisbon, Évora and Faro.


The ME and the MCTES still have, under their indirect administration, the following bodies:

Foundation for Science and Technology, PI: national public agency, under the responsibility of the MCTES, which supports research in science, technology and innovation in all fields of knowledge. 

National Agency for Innovation, S.A.: supervised by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES) and Ministry of Economy, has as main feature to promote the valorisation of knowledge, by means of a wider and better collaboration and articulation between companies and the scientific and technological national system.

National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Training, PI (ANQEP, I.P.): public institution integrated in the indirect administration of the State, with administrative, financial and pedagogical autonomy in the pursuit of its duties, under the joint responsibility of the ME, the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security (MTSSS), in coordination with the Ministry of Economy (ME). Its mission is to coordinate the implementation of policies of education and professional training for young people and adults, through the training offer of dual certification and certified professional certification, and to ensure the development and management of the system of recognition, validation and certification of competencies. This institution, along with the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP), is responsible for the education and training of adults.

Institute of Educational Evaluation, PI (IAVE, I.P.): a special regime public institution, integrated in the indirect administration of the State, endowed with pedagogical, scientific, administrative and financial autonomy and with its own heritage. Its mission is the planning, conception and validation of external evaluation instruments of knowledge and skills of the students of basic and secondary education; the processing and dissemination of information relevant to the making of decisions that contribute to the increase of quality, effectiveness and efficiency of the national educational system; to ensure the coordination of the national participation in international studies about external evaluation of students, as well as the elaboration of certification exams of knowledge and specific skills for other purposes and other education degrees, when prompted.


There are also two national agencies for the management of Erasmus+ programme: one for the education and training sector and the other for the youth and sports sector. The first is under the authority of threeministries: Science, Technology and Higher Education, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labour, Solidariety and Social Security. The second agency for Youth is under the authority of the Secretary of State for Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Education, responsibles for the youth sector in Portugal.


The advisory bodies of the ME and the MCTES that take on advisory functions in this field are the following:

In Madeira, the Regional Secretariat for Education integrates the sectors of education, special education, professional training, sports and youth. The Regional Secretariat for Education also includes the Regional Inspectorate of Education and the Institute for Qualification, IP-RAM (IQ, IP-RAM), which are responsible for the coordination and implementation of regional policy in the fields of qualification, training and professional certification, and the management of the European Social Fund (ESF).

In the Azores, the Regional Secretariat for Education and Culture is part of the Regional Directorate for Education, whose mission is to devise, guide, coordinate and evaluate the Azorean education system, and part of the Regional Inspectorate of Education which controls the legality and administrative, financial and management audit of the education system.

For more detailed information, please refer to: Eurydice – Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level.


Main Players at the local level

In the context of promoting school success, the implementation of educational policies also involves a greater participation and involvement of the local public administration, namely the municipalities, through the Municipal Councils of Education and the Education Charter.

The Municipal Councils of Education are coordinating and advisory bodies whose purpose is to promote the coordination of education policy at a municipal level, and to articulate with the different educational agents and local partners.

The Education Charter is an instrument for the planning of buildings and educational equipment, to promote a more efficient use and management of educational resources, according to the demographic and socio-economic development of each municipality.

The governance of schools is carried out through a regime of autonomy, administration and management of the preschool education, basic and secondary education, in the public education establishments, giving power to schools to take strategic, pedagogical, administrative, financial and organisational decisions within the scope of their educational project. The following management bodies and school administration are defined:

  • General Council;
  • Director;
  • Pedagogic Council;
  • Administrative Council.

The public higher education institutions in Portugal have statutory, pedagogical, scientific, cultural, administrative, financial, patrimonial and disciplinary autonomy from the State, with appropriate differentiation according to its nature (article 11 , Law 62/2007, 10th september: Legal Framework higher education institutions)


Cross-sectorial cooperation

Some programmes and measures in the field of education and training involve intersectoral and interministerial cooperation, in accordance with the typology of the programmes and measures and their scope of action.

In the field of education and training for young people and adults, the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security  is responsible for vocational training policies through the IEFP, I.P., and its network of employment and vocational training centres. It is also responsible for the supervision of ANQEP, in articulation with the ME.

Also, collaboration among a group of institutions, that include ministries and public bodies in other fields, is promoted in order to elaborate some strategic plans. As an example, the Intersectoral Commission for the Promotion of Physical Activity was recently created with the objective of elaborating, operating and monitoring a National Plan of Action for Physical Activity. This committee included several ministries, namely the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education; the Ministry of Education; The Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security; the Ministry of Health and the following secretariats of state: Science, Technology and Higher Education; Education; Youth and Sports; Employment; Inclusion of People with Disabilities; and Health. 

The international and multilateral cooperation, as well as the relationships with international organisations working in the field of education and science (the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCDE), the Organisation of the Ibero-American States (OEI), the United Nations (ONU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)), are articulated between the ME and the MCTES, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MNE).


For a more in-deph knowledge about "Administration and Governance" , please refer to Eurodyce Website 2. Organisation and Governance /2.6 Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level.