More than 90% of Greek schools are public and over 90% of all pupils in Greece attend a public institution. The Greek Constitution grants free public education to all citizens, including immigrants who live in Greece permanently. All students are provided with free textbooks and free transport if they live far from the school. Families with low incomes (less than 3,000€) receive a support of 300€ annually for each child attending compulsory education in a state school. Public education is certainly advantageous from a financial point of view, but may lack the necessary technical infrastructure and organization present in private schools.
Pre-school (Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmoi)
Pre-school education is voluntary in Greece, but it is gradually being made compulsory throughout the country. Children are admitted to pre-school institutions at the age of two-and-a-half. Childcare services in Greece include crèches (vrefonipiakoi stathmoi), nurseries (nipiaka tmimata) and kindergartens (nipiagogeio). The school year begins on September 1st and runs until June 21st. Pre-primary schools operate from Monday to Friday. Kindergartens are opened from 8.00 until 16.30, while creches and nurseries close at 12.30.
Primary school (Dimitiko)
When children in Greece reach the age of six they have to be enrolled in an elementary school (or dimotiko in Greek). Dimotiko is compulsory and in its six-year programme, children learn about the modern Greek language, mathematics, history, environmental studies, information and technology, English, physical education and art. In the fifth and sixth grade, a foreign language, geography, natural science, civic and social studies are added. Some expatriates living in Greece may be surprised to find religious education among the obligatory subjects in their child’s schedule. This is because there is no legal separation between the state and the church in Greece.
The first day of school is on September 11th and the last day on June 15th. Pupils go to school from Monday to Friday, from 08.15 to 13.30. The grading system in the first three grades is made up of letters, with A being excellent, B very good, Γ good and Ε fail. After the fourth grade only numbers from 1 to 10 are used (9-10 excellent, 7-8 very good, 5-6 good and 1-4 fail). Pupils who successfully complete the 6th grade receive a primary school leaving certificate which can be used to register for secondary school (gymnasio).
Pupils in the first five grades receive a progress report (titlos proodou). After the sixth grade they are awarded a studies report (titlos spoudon) that allows them to enrol in the gymnasio.
Lower secondary school (Gymnasio)
Gymnasio lasts three years and is compulsory for children aged 12 to 15. It offers general education through subjects, such as ancient Greek language and literature, modern Greek language and literature, mathematics, history, computer science and foreign languages. There are also foreign-language schools, ecclesiastic education schools, intercultural education schools, music schools, art schools, schools for special educational etc.
Besides morning gymansio, there are also afternoon and evening schools. Every day, pupils have to complete oral work, written assignments and other projects. Written examinations are held at the end of each term. The grading system runs on a scale of 20 to 10, with 20 being the highest, 10 being a pass and 1 being the lowest possible grade.
Upper secondary school (Lykeio)
After gymnasio pupils may continue their studies at non-compulsory level. Students who want to continue their studies at a university usually enrol in three or four-year general schools (geniko lykeio). Students with special technical interests usually take the second option - they enter a vocational upper secondary school (EPAL) or vocational education training school (EPAS). Both last three years and are focused on technical, vocational subjects and workshop exercises. There are also vocational training institutes (Institouto Epaggelmatikis Katartisis - IEK) at the upper secondary level providing a formal but unclassified level of education. Teaching at IEK is based on vocational specialisation. The selection of students takes place twice a year early in September for the winter semester, and at the end of January for the spring semester. Students have to be at least 18 years old.