The education system in Spain is divided into the following levels: Nursery education, primary education, compulsory secondary education, bachillerato [school leaving certificate] and vocational training and university education.
Nursery education: 0 to 6 years, organised in two stages of 3 years each. This is voluntary with the second stage from 3 to 6 years being widely taken up.
Primary education: from 6 to 12 years of age, compulsory and free of charge in public and grant-aided schools.
Compulsory secondary education (CSO): 12 to 16 years. Taught in Secondary Education Institutes. Successful pupils leave school with a secondary education school certificate.
After obtaining the compulsory secondary education school certificate, the student may opt to continue with middle level vocational training studies or bachillerato studies.
The bachillerato [high school certificate] lasts two years, normally from 16 to 18, and confers the qualification of bachiller [baccalaureate]. It provides the foundation for higher level vocational training or, if the students pass the necessary access tests, to university education.
A broad range of mid or higher level vocational training courses are available, organised on a modular basis and of variable duration, which prepare students to work in a variety of jobs. Special pathways exist, generally via exams, for access to university education or higher vocational courses. Passing mid-level vocational training entitles the student to the qualification of technician while higher level vocational training entitles the student to the qualification of higher technician.
The university studies are divided into three cycles, traditionally known as Degree, Master’s/Licenciate and Ph.D. These correspond to the current three levels of university qualifications: Degree, Master’s/Licenciate and PhD.
Universities are independent bodies able to design their own educational courses. They may be public or private. The qualifications of private universities must be officially recognised by the Ministry of Education for them to have official value.
Special training courses are also available, eg. artistic courses (music, dance, plastic arts and design and dramatic art) and language teaching.
In some Autonomous Communities, such as Galicia, Catalonia or the Basque Country, education may be given in the language of the Autonomous Community.
Text last edited on: 08/2010
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