Schools in Portugal
If you are moving to Portugal on a long-term basis and you have children aged from three to eighteen, you will inevitably have to consider the question of schools in Portugal. What are Portuguese schools like? What are the traditions and customs? Does Portugal have English-language schools like France or Spain, for example? Or you might be a schoolteacher yourself and looking for a job in Portugal.
Three options present themselves when thinking about schools in Portugal for your children. You could send them to a local state school, where lessons will be in Portuguese, and thus give them a (free) passport to the heart of Portuguese culture, a step up the ladder to learning the language and, consequently, improve your own chances of full integration into the community as you meet the parents of your children's friends.
Alternatively, you could send your children to one of the many fee-paying English language schools in Portugal, of which there are a greater number in the popular ex-pat areas, or to boarding school in Britain or other country. This will be an expensive option no matter which private school you favour, but many ex-pats in Portugal do opt for this route, as they believe it is important to be educated in your own language. In the case of children who have already begun their education in English, this could be true as learning a new language at a later stage of education will take time. Young children who are just developing their language skills, however, may benefit from the bilingual aspects of having an English-speaking home and a Portuguese school life.
In Portugal education for all children between the ages of six and fifteen is compulsory (ensino básico), and pre-school (three to five) education is now widely available. Only since the end of the Salazar regime has education been considered a right, not a privilege, so do not be surprised by the 10 per cent illiteracy rate in those over the age of fifteen, especially elderly women in rural areas and school drop-outs. 85 per cent of school-age children attend state school in Portugal, and many now attend nursery (jardims de infância) as well. After the age of fifteen, providing they have passed the first nine years of education, children aged up to eighteen can follow a secondary education course to prepare them for vocational or academic futures. After this universities award bacharelato (first degree) or licenciatura (full degree) qualifications but, as Portuguese universities are universally oversubscribed, many students opt to study abroad.
Another good option is to attend online universities for their degrees.
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