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OECD Reviews of School Resources: Portugal 2018

image of OECD Reviews of School Resources: Portugal 2018

This country review offers an independent analysis of major issues facing the use of school resources in Portugal from an international perspective. It provides a description of national policies, an analysis of strengths and challenges and options for possible future approaches. The analysis focuses on the process of decentralisation of school governance, the integration of local, national and international funding streams in educational financing, and the development of the teaching profession. The report covers primary and secondary school education.

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School education in Portugal

This chapter presents an overview of the political, economic and demographic context of Portugal. It also provides a brief description of structures and trends in the Portuguese school system for international readers. Portugal is a small open economy, on the westernmost edge of continental Europe. Following the late democratisation of its institutions in the 1970s, the country widened access to education with compelling results. While prior to the democratic revolution 25% of the population did not know how to write or read, by 2016 almost half the working-age population had at least completed upper secondary education. The efforts have ensured universal access to school and also clear improvements in quality. The Portuguese education system witnessed the largest improvement in 15-year-olds’ scientific literacy among OECD countries between 2006 and 2015. Still, important challenges remain. Political reforms in the country prioritise greater delegation of responsibilities to municipalities and decision-making autonomy at the school level. Building capacity for a smooth delegation of authority over school resources is crucial. Despite expanded access, substantial equity concerns exist in the provision of schooling. Large proportions of students repeat years, school attainment does not consistently produce labour market success and students’ socio-economic backgrounds still strongly influence their level of school attainment. Finally, high dropout rates and regional disparities hinder the effectiveness of the Portuguese education system.

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