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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.6 Social inclusion through education and training

Last update: 28 November 2023

Educational support

Mainstream education

In Portugal, the offer of support to students with specific needs in Mainstream Education aims at the promotion of equal opportunities, based on the assumption of a democratic and inclusive school, geared towards the educational success of all children and young people, in accordance with the Education System Basic Law.

The Decree-Law n.º 54/2018, of 6th July, realizes the right of each pupil to an inclusive education that responds to their potentialities, expectations and needs within the framework of a common and plural educational endeavour that provides everyone with the sense of participation and belonging in authentic conditions of equity, contributing thus, decisively, for greater levels of social cohesion.

This Decree-Law  establishes the principles and norms that guarantee inclusion, as a process that aims to respond to the diversity of the needs and potential of each and every one of the pupils, by increasing participation in the processes of learning and educational community life; (ii) identifies the measures to support learning and inclusion, the specific curricular areas, as well as specific resources to be mobilized to meet the educational needs of each and every child and young person along the school path, in all different education and training offerings; (iii) applies to school clusters and non-grouped schools, professional schools and establishments of pre-school education and basic and secondary education of private, cooperative and solidarity networks, hereinafter referred to as schools.

The methodological options underlying this decree-law are based on universal design for learning and a multilevel approach to access the curriculum. This approach is based on flexible curricular models, systematic monitoring of the effectiveness of the continuum of implemented interventions, the dialogue between teachers with parents or caregivers, and in the choice of measures to support learning, organized at different levels of intervention, according to the educational responses necessary for each student to acquire a common base of competences, valuing their potential and interests.

This decree-law identifies the specific resources to support learning and inclusion of among which are the specific organizational resources:

a) The multidisciplinary team of support to inclusive education,

b) The learning support centre;

c) Reference schools in the area of vision/blindness;

d) Reference schools for bilingual education;

e) Reference schools for early childhood intervention;

f) Resource centres for information and communication technology for special education

The role of the multidisciplinary team referred to in (a), one per school, is fundamental for the promotion of an inclusive school culture.

It is the responsibility of the multidisciplinary team: (i) To raise awareness of the educational community towards inclusive education; (ii) To propose the learning support measures to be mobilized; (iii)To follow up and to monitor the implementation of the learning support measures;(iv)To provide advice to teachers about the implementation of inclusive pedagogical practices; (v)To follow up on the functioning of the learning support centre.

The learning support centre is a support structure that aggregates human and material resources, knowledge and skills, and competencies of the school.


Individual Educational Programme (IEP)

The individual educational programme includes the identification and implementation plan of the significant curricular adaptations and integrates the competences and learning to be developed by the pupils, and the identification of the teaching strategies and the adjustments to be made in their evaluation process and also includes other measures to support inclusion, to be defined by the multidisciplinary team.

IEP and the individual plan for early intervention and the individual health plan (in the case of children with special health needs) are complementary, and the necessary coherence, synergy and communication between them must be guaranteed.

 Whenever the student has an individual educational program, three years before reaching the compulsory education age limit, this shall be complemented by an individual transition plan designed to promote the transition to post-school life and, whenever possible, to the establishment of a professional activity.


Teaching materials

The Ministry of Education has a Resources Centre that adapts school textbooks, in collaboration with publishers, to Braille or Daily digital format, for example. 

The Ministry of Education has also created a national network of 25 Information and Communication Technology (ICT RC) for prescribing assistive products/devices. The ICT RC carries out the assessment of the pupils’ needs, at the request of schools, for the purpose of granting the assistive products/devices to access the curriculum.  There is also a system that aims to reduce activity limitations and participation restrictions arising from a disability or inability, by giving free and universal support products - System of Assignment of Assistive Products (SAPA).

The different programmes and measures in mainstream education are free, since they are framed in the compulsory education, which is free of charge, and by the specific legislation annually published for updating School Social Support contributions, where the funding is covered by the Ministry of Education.


Children and young people at risk of retention or leaving school

There are a number of measures to promote school success of students at risk of grade retention or of early school leaving school, who want to avoid their social exclusion.

Among such measures, the Educational Territories of Priority Intervention Programme (TEIP3) stands out. This programme includes a set of measures of positive discrimination to promote students' school success.

For more detailed information on prevention measures for school leaving, refer to - Chapter 6 - Education and Training (6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET).


Higher Education Students

In the case of Higher Education, the State ensures a system of student welfare support that aims to guarantee equal opportunities for young people economically deprived.  This support can consist of a direct aid through scholarships, or indirect support, such as assistance for food or accommodation, etc.


Scholarship for Higher Education Students

Targeted at students from economically disadvantaged families and/or young people with disabilities and impairments that receive economic support to attend higher education.


Mobility scholarship "+Superior"

Aimed at economically disadvantaged students residing, preferably, in urban areas.  This scholarship intends to encourage and support the attendance of higher education in regions of the country with smaller demographic pressure in order to contribute to territorial cohesion through the establishment of young people, as well as to the pursuit of Portugal 2020's goals regarding the number of young people with higher education training.


Special needs

Higher education attendance scholarships targeted at students with a disability equal or greater than 60%, corresponding to the tuition fee effectively paid


Other Specific Support Measures

There are still a set of other supports, particularly the awarding of merit-based scholarships to students with outstanding educational achievements, awarding supports to students with special needs (disabilities) and promoting the implementation of a loan system for the empowerment of students.


Recurrent upper secondary education

The recurrent upper secondary education is aimed at an audience of adult students (over 16 years old) and it is aligned with the specific curriculum of the Scientific-Humanistic course at upper secondary level. This teaching modality works after hours (evening classes) and the subjects are structured in a modular regime, with the students being able to capitalize on the modules of the different subjects in the face-to-face regime, with classes throughout the school year, or at their own pace, i.e. choosing the non-attendance / attendance regime, in which there is the possibility for the student to choose to take exams for the completion of modules, thus anticipating the attendance time of the intended course.


Recurrent Distance Secondary Education

Since school year 2016/2017, the Ministry of Education, through the Directorate-General for Education (DGE) has provided a training offer, nationwide, of Recurrent Distance Secondary Education (ESR @ D). The training offer is based on the curricular matrices of the scientific-humanistic courses of recurrent upper secondary education. This system works on a model basis, in the “b-learning” modality, that is, integrating face-to-face sessions and remote, synchronous and asynchronous sessions. ESR @ D requires students to have a set of technical conditions, namely, a computer with a webcam, microphone and internet access. The system of equivalences and target audience is similar to that of recurrent teaching in the face-to-face modality.


Foreigners living in Portugal

Within the framework of policies to promote equality and citizenship rights, a set of measures for inclusion of foreigner living in Portugal, among other spheres, has been developed, by promoting knowledge of the Portuguese language and culture.

The National Qualifications Catalogue incorporates a set of Short Duration Training Units of Portuguese for Non-native Speakers – the “Português Lingua de Acolhimento” courses - that comprises the levels A1 and A2 of language proficiency for elementary users and the levels B1 and B2 of language proficiency for independent users.

 Furthermore, the ME comprises a special unit to validate and recognise the non-Portuguese citizens’ academic qualifications, especially for university entrance aiming to promote equality and citizenship rights.


All the students shall attend mainstream schools. However students can follow different and training paths such as alternative curricular paths, vocational paths and integrated programmes of education and training, adapted to the students' profile and specificities, whether he/she is in basic education or secondary education.  In all cases, the redefinition of the educational path must result from the evaluation of a monitoring and guidance team, always with the consent of the student’s parent/guardian.

Dispatch No. 9251/2016 20th July approves the measures for Support for Qualification and Support for Integration, Maintenance and Reintegration in the Labour Market. The goals of this measure are the promotion of actions that aim at the acquisition and development of professional skills oriented for the practise of an activity in the labourmarket, thus enhance the employability of people with disability and impairment, giving them proper skills that promote the entry, re-entry or permanence in the world of work. The beneficiaries are people with disability and impairment, that have the legal minimum age to work, who want to entry, re-entry or remain in the labourmarket and that do not hold a vocational or educational certification compatible with the practise of a trade or job placements, or having already engaged a professional activity, that are unemployed, enrolled at employment and vocational training centres and want to upgrade their qualifications in other professional areas that facilitate a quick and sustained (re) entry in the labourmarket.

Currently, the National Catalogue of Qualifications (CNQ) is comprised of 22 qualifications in 13 fields of education and training, which corresponds to level 2 of National Qualifications Framework professional profiles adapted to people with disability or impairment.

The training benchmarks, established in modular fashion, are training elaboration facilitators of trajectories of variable composition and duration, which is facilitating for the beneficiaries of these typologies so they can flexibly and gradually acquire certifiable qualifications. It is recommended to the entities that carry out qualification actions towards people with disability or impairment that they apply these benchmarks in their training actions.

The Qualifica Centres are also orientated to address citizens with disabilities and impairments, in order to ensure their integration into the active and professional life. 

There is a Methodological Guide for the Access to the RVCC of People With Disabilities and Impairments, which results from a work group coordinated by ANQEP, I.P., and promoted by the Assistant Secretary of State and of Rehabilitation, which includes representatives of the IEFP, I.P., and the General Directorate for Curriculum Innovation and Development (Directorate-General of Education) and the National Institute for Rehabilitation, I.P. (INR).  This documents clarifies about the operationalisation of processes of recognition, validation and certification of acquired competencies in a formal, non-formal and informal manner, adapted to people with disabilities or impairments.

For more detailed information, refer to Eurydice - Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training.


People that did not conclude the 1st cycle of basic education

There are people who do not have the basic competencies to access offers for qualification and training.

In this sense, CNQ has a Training Programme for Basic Competences that is structured in 6 Short Duration Training Units (UFCD) that offer basic competences of reading, writing, calculus and awareness-raising for the use of information and communication technologies.

Training actions framed in this programme are carried out by public education institutions, under the ME’s supervision, and by professional training centres of the IEFP.


Young NEET

Youth Guarantee Programme

The Youth Guarantee Programme intends to combat the high rate of youth unemployment and is targeted at young NEET between the age of 18 and 29.  Education and training are two of the four lines of action of this programme, which includes:

  • at the level of training, the Active Life for Young People aims to strengthen the professional qualification of the unemployed young people seeking for their first job or a new one;
  • offer of alternative educational and training paths, in partnership with IEFP, I.P.; and Qualifica Centres (secondary level Vocational Courses; Professional Courses, Youth Education and Training; Learning).
  • At the level of post-secondary and higher education, the offer consists of Technological Specialization Courses and Professional Higher Technical Courses.

The measures developed under the Youth Guarantee Programme are funded by the European Social Fund, with national co-financing from POISE.

For more detailed information about the Youth Guarantee Programme, refer to Chapter 4 - Social Inclusion 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People (1.            Programmes specific for vulnerable young people)


Other programmes for the inclusion of vulnerable young people

Integrated Programme for Education and Training (PIEF)

PIEF is a socio-educational measure of prevention against school leaving that intends to promote the completion of compulsory education and social inclusion, by giving a 2nd or 3rd cycle school qualification targeted at young people between the age of 15 and 18.


STEER Project

The STEER project - Support the transition of young people at risk: Education-Employment, aims to design, develop, supply and test a comprehensive training programme for young workers in order to facilitate their transition from education to the labour market, with particular focus on promoting the employability of unemployed youth and young NEET.  It is funded by Erasmus+.


“Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas)

The “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) is a nationwide government programme aimed at promoting social inclusion of children and young people between the age of 6 and 30, from vulnerable socio-economic contexts, that are at risk of dropout school, school failure or school absenteeism, among other situations. This programme intends to offer equal opportunities and strengthen social cohesion. 


Under the “Choices Programme” there are, among others, two programmes that provide scholarships to students in a vulnerable socio-economic situation:


UCAN Project – scholarships to young people from vulnerable socio-economic contexts until the age of 24.


OPRE Project (Operational Programme for the Promotion of Education – ACM, I.P.) – scholarships to young higher education students from Roma communities, in order to avoid the early leaving from this cycle of studies, by lowering the barriers that exist between Roma communities and the formal education system.


The measures developed under the “Choices Programme”, at the national level, are funded by the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, through the Social Security and by the Ministry of Education, through Directorate-General of Education. At the European level, these measures are funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds, through POISE under Portugal 2020.


For more detailed information, refer to Chapter 4 - Social Inclusion 4.4 Inclusive Programmes for Young People - Programme specific for vulnerable young people)


Social cohesion and equal opportunities

Formal education

In September 2017, the National Strategy for Citizenship Education was presented. The curriculum unit "Citizenship and Development (CD)" is part of the curriculum of all the basic education grade levels as an autonomous subjet. In the upper secondary education and in the courses of education and training of young people of the basic and secondary education, the Citizenship and Development curricular unit is developed with the input of all classes and training components in the curriculum - basis.  The organisation of the domains of Education for Citizenship to be worked on is distributed in three groups with different implications: 1 - compulsory for all grade levels and education cycles; 2 - Worked on in at least 2 cycles of basic education; 3 - optional implementation in any grade level.

The schools have autonomy regarding how they implement the National Strategy for Citizenship Education creating their own educational projects and activities and may involve partnerships with other entities and with families. The Ministry of Education has developed a set of guidance documents for schools on a number of themes:

  • Road Safety Education;
  • Development Education;
  • Gender Equality Education;
  • Human Rights Education;
  • Financial Education;
  • National Security and Defense Education;
  • Promotion of Volunteerism;
  • Environmental/Sustainable Development Education;
  • The European Dimension of Education;
  • Media Education;
  • Health and Sex Education
  • Entrepreneurship Education;
  • Consumer Education;
  • Intercultural Education;
  • Risk Education

The Portuguese Government developed a Strategy for Citizenship Education, assisted by a work group created for that purpose. The intention is to implement this strategy in public schools, with the aim to include a set of competencies and knowledge in the field of citizenship, in all curriculum options, and in all levels of education.

The implementation is running in this school year of 2017-2018, for schools covered by the Curriculum Autonomy and Flexibility project, and the generalisation for the next school year 2017-2018 is provided for.

The implementation is running since the  2017/2018 school year  for the 230 schools covered by the Curriculum Autonomy and Flexibility Project, and from 2018 /2019  on   the Strategy is implemented in all schools (public and private).

 A national in-service training programme is being implemented in 2018 encompassing a 60 hours workshop on Citizenship and Developing.  The trainees are the 810 Citizenship and Development school coordinators (one per school cluster/school). Under the National Strategy for Citizenship Education and the new curricular framework, the training sessions aim to support the definition and implementation of each School Strategy for Citizenship Education.


Web We Want - prevention measures for Bullying and Cyberbullying

The Web We Want project provides prevention activities for Bullying and Cyberbullying. The authorship of this project belongs to the European Network of Ministries of Education, European Schoolnet, and is a result from a collaboration between the ENABLE and Web We Want projects. It is titled "My well-being and yours: Respect... starts with me! Web We Want and ENABLE- Joining efforts against Bullying".


Training Activities

The Directorate-General of Education carries out a set of training activities in a "blended learning" modality, accredited by the Portuguese Order of Psychologists, and aimed at psychologists that are currently working in public education institutions under the Psychology and Guidance specialized support in a school context, including Intervention and Prevention of Disruptive Behaviours and Bullying


Non-formal and informal Education

The ACM, IP promotes a set of initiatives to promote interculturality, diversity and migration in schools and their actors (students, teachers, etc.)

Intercultural School  - Label/award

The Intercultural School Label/Award has been implemented since 2012 within a partnership involving ME, through the DGE, the ACM, IP and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF Portugal). This initiative aims to distinguish schools that develop projects that promote the recognition and appreciation of diversity as an opportunity and source of learning for all. (cross-referencing Chapter 4 - 4.5 Initiatives Promoting Social Inclusion and Raising Awareness- 1. Intercultural awareness).


 REEI Programme - Network of Schools for Intercultural Education

The REEI Programme - Network of Schools for Intercultural Education is a joint initiative of the DGE - ME, the ACM, IP and the AKF Portugal. The Programme develops a network of schools that promote respect for differences, recognise the richness of diversity and therefore embrace the central tenets of Intercultural Education. The Programme recognises diversity as an asset that leads to the development of a democratic identity, to dialogue, to interaction, and to positive encounters with others and to educational success.


Information/awareness initiatives

Information/awareness initiatives with the intention of promoting a better understanding of cultural diversity and training for interculturality.

Intercultural education in school (6 hours)

Targeted at teachers and other agents of the educational community.

The objective is to promote a reflexion on how intercultural learning can be enhanced in a school context, by discussing educational practices.

Intercultural Schools Kit

The Intercultural Schools Kit provides a set of materials on the theme of interculturality.

It is aimed at schools and all education professionals.


"Not just Number" Project - Educational Toolkit

It is a set of tools focused on migration and asylum in the European Union that is available in 24 EU Member States, in 20 languages ​​with support materials and DVDs.

For more detailed information, refer to Chapter 4 - Social Inclusion 4.5 Initiatives promoting social inclusion and raising awareness - Intercultural awareness)


Other operational initiatives/programmes

In Portugal, the national strategy for social inclusion of young people is framed in the incentive programme named Portugal 2020, under the Europe 2020 Strategy through the Operational Plan for Social Inclusion and Employment (POSE), specifically:

Thematic Objective 9 - Strengthening of the reintegration of people at risk of poverty and of the combat against social exclusion

Priority Axis 3 - Promoting Social Inclusion and Combating Poverty and Discrimination, which aims to promote active social inclusion in potentially vulnerable groups. The “Choices Programme” (Programa Escolhas) fits this initiative. It is a national government programme, integrated in the High Commission for Migration (ACM, I.P.), whose mission is to promote social inclusion of children and young people from vulnerable socio-economic contexts, aiming at offering equal opportunities and strengthening social cohesion. Its implementation is based on a local initiative, through the funding of projects based on entities and institutions that act in the territory. 

Target groups: the direct participants of the programme are children and young people between the age of 6 and 30 from the most vulnerable socio-economic contexts, including descendants of immigrants, Roma communities and Portuguese immigrants.

Thematic Objective 8 - Stimulus for employment creation and sustainability (TO8)

Priority Axis 2 - Youth Employment Initiative, the priority is the sustainable professional integration of young people into the labour market - especially those who are not in education, employment or training; young people at risk of social exclusion and young people from marginalised communities - through the implementation of measures outlined in the National Plan for the Implementation of a Youth Guarantee (PNI-GJ) between 2013 and 2018.  There is a package of measures in the area of education and training that aims to increase the qualification and set of competencies for later integration into the labour market. 

Target groups: young NEET from 18 to 29 years.


The National Commission for the Promotion of Children and Young People's Rights and Protection (CNPDPCJ)

CNPDCJ developed a set of Guidance Documents on how to address situations of abuse or other dangerous situations. These guidance documents were elaborated under a protocol established between the CNPDCJ, the Social Security Institute, I.P., and the Generalitat Valenciana, Consejería de Bienestar Social, including guidance documents targeted at Education professionals - Guidance Documents for Education Professionals.


 National Plan for Gender Equality, Citizenship and Non-Discrimination (2014-2017)

Under the National Plan for Gender Equality, Citizenship and Non-Discrimination, in the strategic area 2 of the Plan (Promotion of Equality between Women and Men in Public Policies), the following measures and initiatives stand out within the context of education:

  • Under measure 14 (Production of teaching materials in all supports, gender equality and citizenship promotors), a guide for Education, Gender and Citizenship was elaborated for secondary education, and a work group was created to develop an Reference Guide for Gender Quality.
  • Under measure 15 (Promoting the dissemination and application of the produced teaching materials), training activities were funded, which are accredited by the Scientific-pedagogical Council of Further Training, for education professionals, from preschool to secondary education; training workshops were carried out by the Directorate-General of Education; and, the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG) published a Manual for early childhood education and a Manuel for basic and secondary education.

The following measures and activities stand out:

Measure 27 - Promoting awareness-raising/training activities for gender equality and non-discrimination aimed at young people

Awareness-raising/training activities for gender equality and non-discrimination were created, aimed at young people, for example:

  • awareness-raising activities were created by the Union of Women for Alternatives and Answers (UMAR), targeting schools of different levels of education, from preschool to the 12th year. These activities focus on gender identities and deconstruction of stereotypes (for the younger ones), under the "Gender Equality Meetings" project.


Measure 50 - Raising the population's awareness for non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity

Under the Artways Project, UMAR and the Portuguese ILGA Association - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Intervention (Portuguese ILGA) held 3 activities in schools to raise young people's awareness for non-discrimination concerning sexual orientation and gender identity.

For more detailed information, refer to Chapter 4 - Social Inclusion 4.5 Initiatives promoting social inclusion and raising awareness - Young people's rights).