The alleged legacy of ancient Greek education may be appealing for expats, luring them to enrol their children or themselves in Greek schools. The reality behind this romantic view is that Greece has undergone a number of educational reforms during the last century to keep in step with the international trends in education. It was well worth the effort, since Greece now has a well respected education system and a literacy rate of 97.16%, comparable to that of Argentina and Israel.
Yet, Greece, like any other country, is still struggling with different educational deficits. Even though the organization of education in Greece is controlled by the Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, which should provide the same quality of education in all schools, there are still big variations in the quality of the education provided and in the performances of different schools. Expatriates in Greece should therefore consider all these things carefully before deciding which school to send their child to.
Expatriates can attend any Greek school, public or private, and at all educational levels. Public schools are also free for immigrants who live in Greece permanently. Private schools are mostly branches of American and UK schools and they charge annual tuition fees. The enrolment in Greek schools generally requires the birth certificates of both parents and the child, as well as the child’s vaccination certificate. Students in Greece don’t wear school uniforms. The school year in Greece runs from September 11th until June 15th for primary education and from September 11th until June 30th for secondary education. Students go to school from Monday to Friday, starting at around 8.00 and finishing at 14.00. Every school year has 175 school days and four weeks of holidays; the most important of which are Christmas (December 24th – January 7th) and Easter (April 9th – April 22th).
Greece provides the whole range of pre-school education, though it’s not obligatory. Families can enrol their children in creches at the age two-and-a-half. The mandatory education in Greece starts at the age of six with primary school that lasts six years and continues until the completion of the lower secondary education (gymnasio in Greek) at the age of 15. After that, pupils can continue onto upper secondary education choosing between general upper secondary schools (eniaio lykeio), vocational upper secondary schools (EPAL or EPAS) or vocational training institutes (IEK). With a leaving certificate from one of these schools, pupils can proceed to a higher education, offered by universities (panepistimio) and technological educational institutions (TEI).