One of the first cultures where education was methodically practiced was ancient Greece. Most well-known ancient thinkers came from that period of education’s efflorescent time. Greece has continued to offer top-notch education to its inhabitants and residents by building on this tradition. There are many excellent schools in Greece, both public and private.

This article mentions the various study options of Greek schools as well as the system on which they are established.

How Does The Greek School System Work?

The Greek educational system comprises three levels—primary, secondary, and tertiary—along with a fourth post-secondary level offering vocational training. Preschool, primary, and lower secondary education are all required for all Greek children between the ages of 6 and 15. The Hellenic Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs oversees the Greek educational system (YPEPTH).

The first stage of education is separated into kindergarten, which lasts one to two years, and primary school (Demotiko), which lasts six years and accepts students as young as six. Lower secondary (Gymnasio) education is based on a broad curriculum designed to give students subject-specific information and prepare them for life as citizens. The Technical Vocational School (Eniaio Lykeio) and the Unified Upper Secondary School (Eniaio Lykeio) are two types of three-year upper secondary schools (TEE). There are primary and secondary public and private school divisions at every level and discipline.

The particular orientation and traditional primary and secondary schools (like music, pastoral, and athletic lower and upper secondary schools) exist. Moreover, intercultural education programs are offered to both pupils of foreign or gypsy origin and repatriated Greek students, while minority schools are set up to educate Thrace’s Muslim population. Not to mention, there are experimental schools that run under university supervision and use cutting-edge teaching techniques. 

According to Article 16 of the Constitution, higher education institutions in Greece are fully autonomous legal bodies governed by public law, sponsored and overseen by the Hellenic Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs. Universities and Polytechnics (AEI), Technical Education Institutes (TEI), and Academies, which primarily serve the military and the clergy, make up public higher education. A student’s performance in national-level exams after the third year of upper secondary education determines whether or not they are admitted to tertiary study.

Compulsory School Attendance in Greece

Preschool education (or nipiagogeia) lasts for two years. It is a must for kids aged 4 and 5 as part of their primary education. (Law 4704/2020). Six years are spent in primary school (dimotika scholeia). Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are included. Six-year-olds can enroll in first grade and students three-year participation in gymnasiums (lower secondary education schools). The management and administration of kindergarten and primary schools are under the ministry of education’s watch.

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Preschool Education In Greece

Only “daycare centers/nurseries or crèches” are considered early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs in Greece for children under three. Footnote1 The for-profit and nonprofit public (via municipalities) sectors operate the daycare facilities. The Ministry of Interior oversees the municipal daycare facilities, which accept children from 6 months to 2 and a half years old. Private childcare facilities are primarily under the control of the Ministry of Labor, Social Security, and Social Solidarity, and they accept children from the age of two months to two and a half years. Municipal daycare facilities are run by municipal legal entities (nonprofits), municipal utility companies, or in the framework of a specific municipal service (for-profit). Children from economically disadvantaged families, such as orphans, double orphans, children from single-parent families, children of divorced or separated parents, children of women who are housed in the network of structures protecting women who experienced violence, and children from families with members who have physical or mental disabilities, are given priority for registration. For those who earn less than €15,000 per year, for instance, there are no fees. Care costs are much higher in for-profit private and public childcare facilities. 

Kindergartens (nipiagogeio) and childcare facilities are two different institutions in Greece. Pre-primary education (nipiagogeio) for kids in grades 4 and 5 is overseen by the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs. The age at which pre-primary school (nipiagogeio) is required to begin has been dropped from five to four as of 2018–19. Only college graduates can work as teachers; every kindergarten uses the same national curriculum. Children are accepted in public childcare facilities from 6 months to 4 years old.

Primary School In Greece

Elementary schools are called “Dimotiko” (demotic, meaning municipal), a carryover term from when local communities ran such schools. The name remains, although it has been obsolete for decades. Years are called “classes”, from first to sixth: ∙ Year 1: age 6 to 7 ∙ Year 2: age 7 to 8 ∙ Year 3: age 8 to 9 ∙ Year 4: age 9 to 10 ∙ Year 5: age 10 to 11 ∙ Year 6: age 11 to 12 A typical school day starts at 8.15 and finishes from 13.15 to 15.00 depending on the school. The classes last between 40 and 90 minutes. The school year always starts on September 11 and ends on June 15. The students have summer vacation (about three months), Christmas vacation (2 weeks), and Easter vacation (2 weeks). Furthermore, students usually take another four days off to celebrate their two national holidays (28/10 and 25/3).

Secondary School In Greece

From eleven and a half to seventeen and a half, secondary education lasts six years. It is split into two three-year cycles that follow one another. The gymnasium is for the lowest three classes. The lyceum consists of the top three grades.

The gymnasium aims to support students’ capacity for learning following their capacities and societal demands. The state works towards this objective by providing the same curriculum to all students. The curriculum for the gymnasium does not include elective courses. Hence, providing an education suited to specific needs and interests is prioritized over the desire for full formal equality of educational chances. Attendance is required. Without taking an exam, students who graduate from the gymnasium are given an apolyterion or diploma. It lists the courses for which the holder has attained the various proficiency levels and allows enrollment in any upper secondary school without requiring an exam. Graduating gymnasium students enroll in regular lyceums in around 60% of cases, technical/vocational lyceums in 25% of cases, integrated lyceums in 5%, and technical vocational schools in about 10% of cases. 

The lyceum seeks to develop students’ personalities and character so they can contribute to the social, economic, and cultural advancement of the nation. It offers advice to students on choosing a career or continuing their studies. Technical/vocational schools, general, integrated, and technical/vocational lyceums are all available. The general lyceum offers courses that get students ready for college. Both daytime and nighttime lyceums exist. The latter lasts four years and is for students working during the day. The first- and second-year curriculum includes 30 hours of instruction each week in religion, history, psychology, ancient and modern Greek language and literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, physical education, and foreign languages. There are general education and college-preparatory third-year courses.

Special Needs Schools In Greece

While primarily located in metropolitan areas, elementary schools in Greece have been built expressly for pupils with special needs. To accommodate pupils with specific needs, regular primary schools also provide integrated programs. There are currently 23 institutions for special education. In Athens, Orestiada, Kavala, Messolongi, Kastoria, Skydra, Rethymno, Loutraki-Perachora-Ag Theodoroi, and Kalamata, there are nine special needs vocational high schools. Most significant international agreements containing provisions relating to special needs individuals’ access to school and employment have been ratified by Greece. The Greek Constitution guarantees free public education for all citizens and requires the government to assist pupils with special needs.

International Schools In Greece

Greece has many international schools, with British and American institutions among the most well-liked. The facilities and educational quality of the school are excellent, and many offer instruction from kindergarten through high school.

Since Greece is a member of the European Union, most international schools are linked to other educational institutions abroad and share teaching and learning resources with them.

The economic crisis has impacted the living conditions and economic standing of Greeks. As a result, fewer local families are able and willing to enroll their children in private schools. Yet, many Greek pupils still need to enroll in international schools.

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Private Schools In Greece

Private institutions in Greece provide education at all levels and are primarily outposts of institutions in the US and UK. Depending on the school and grade, they demand annual tuition costs between 1.500€ and 13.000€. The widespread conviction that private schools provide superior education to public schools is why many families send their children there despite the exorbitant price. Another factor is the infrastructure and furnishings of private schools, which all have a library, a gym, and at least one computer lab. Moreover, private educational institutions offer degrees that are on par with those given by public schools and implement the current national curriculum.

Many possibilities are available to expatriates in Greece who want to enroll their kids in a private school. Students can pick one of the many private Greek schools that adhere to the general curriculum or one of the private international schools that provide various educational options. Greek students primarily attend foreign private schools with a Greek education program, while international students typically attend foreign private schools with a foreign education program in Greece. Additionally, there are schools with a Greek and foreign curriculum that appeal to Greek citizens and visitors. Private schools may offer instruction in various languages, but all international schools must offer Greek, even if they offer that language as part of their curriculum.

Higher Education In Greece

The University Sector and the Technical Sector are the two divisions of Higher Education in Greece. The higher education university sector strives to construct, produce, and develop science and technology, achieve high-level, comprehensive, theoretical, and applied training for our country’s future scientists, and promote and develop scientific research. The higher education technological sector aspires to advance scientific and technological research and offer more practical programs.

Greece has just over 20 public universities that are dispersed around the nation. While Greek is the primary language of instruction, specialized study programs are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels in other languages, most frequently English. 15 Technical Educational Institutes (TEIs) are affiliated with these universities and provide higher education programs emphasizing practical and professional skills in applied technology, healthcare, agriculture, management, and art and design.

Is Schooling Free In Greece?

Greece’s public schools are tuition-free, and those on a state-approved list receive free textbooks. Approximately 30% of students are qualified to attend tuition-free programs depending on individual requirements, while approximately 25% of postgraduate programs are tuition-free.

These Are The Main Greek School Vacation Periods

Winter break: In late December and early January, there are typically two weeks of winter break.

Spring break: Spring break typically lasts about a week in April.

Summer break: The summer break typically lasts eight weeks, from the end of June to the start of September.

The Greek School Day Explained

In addition to their regular schooling, most pupils often take such lessons (and exams) at the tutors’ schools in the afternoon and evening. Depending on the school, a typical school day starts at 8.15 and ends between 13.15 and 15.00. The lessons are 40 to 90 minutes long for the primary level.

The secondary level begins on September 11 and lasts until June 15 and 18. Lessons end on May 31, so students can focus on studying for their exams in June. Depending on the type of school, sessions begin at 8.15 and end between 13.45 and 14.15. Courses last 45 minutes.

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Greek Grading System in Secondary Schools

The secondary school grading system in Greece ranges between 1-20.

 Numerical Value / Grade in English in Greek

 20                                         Excellent Άριστα

 18 6/14                               Very good Πολύ Καλά

 15 6/14                                       Good Καλά

 12 6/14                                         Fair Μέτρια

 9 13/14                             Insufficient Ανεπαρκώς

Secondary (Lyceum) Education Grading System

The Lyceum school has 32-35 hours per week, with a 20-point grading system, Law 4610/2019. The Apolytirio certificate qualification receives an additional final mention (level of distinction) with which it has been earned.

 Numerical Value / Grade in English in Greek

 20 – 18,1                         Excellent Άριστα

 18 – 16,1                       Very good Λίαν καλώς

 16 – 13,1                               Good               Καλώς

 13 – 9,5                       Αlmost good Σχεδόν καλώς

9,4 – 5,1                       Insufficiently Ανεπαρκώς

 5 – 0                                           Badly               Κακώς

The management and daily operations of schools are continually improved with the help of student assessment. It is crucial to the process of teaching and learning. To conduct assessments, schools employ a variety of methods and procedures, including: 

At the beginning of each school year, a diagnostic evaluation is completed to record previous student performance and to guide lesson planning and instruction.

To ascertain whether the learning objectives outlined by the current curriculum for each subject have been satisfied, formative assessment is done throughout the learning process. Supporting the instructional process and learning objectives is the ultimate goal.

Knowledge and skill assessments must be valid, comparable, and consistent. The process of summative evaluation helps achieve this.

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Greek School System Facts

  • Education from Grades 1-9, ages 6-15, is free and compulsory.
  • There are 22 Universities, including Polytechnic Schools, the School of Fine Arts and the Hellenic Open University (EAP), 14 Technological Educational Institutes (T.E.I.), and the School of Pedagogic and Technological Education (ASPETAI).
  • Approximately 680,000 undergraduate and 120,000 postgraduate students are enrolled in Greek universities.
  • 786,025 students in primary school.
  • The Academy of Athens forms part of the so-called “Neoclassical Trilogy” of the City of Athens: Academy – University – Library. The Academy was founded by Plato in the 4th century – exactly in 387 BC in Athens.
  • 44% of 25–34-year-olds had a tertiary qualification in 2021

Final Thoughts

Although the Greek education system might not be the most recognized in the world, it certainly has its merits and is known to hold a standard due to its past. You have a decent range to choose from at various stages of your academic life.