Education system in Greece

greek educationEducation is a very important good for humans and society, which is why it has been recognized as a basic right for all children. States, in order to respond to the need to educate all their citizens, organized their education systems, giving particular importance to free compulsory education for all. In Greece, the state offers compulsory ten-year and free education (ages 5–15).

As societies change, so does the way education is offered to people. In today’s era, states organize their education systems in order to ensure that all children have the right to education. At school, the child systematically acquires knowledge, skills and values, i.e. education and literacy.
In Greece, the organization of education and the way the education system operates are the responsibility of the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs.

According to the law, compulsory schooling lasts ten years and includes Kindergarten, Primary and High School. The student can continue at the Lyceum or at another School. Anyone who wishes, after high school can go to the University (A.E.I.) or to another educational institution (A.TE.I. or I.E.K.). The state has to help children attend school, which is why education is not only compulsory but also free.

The levels of education in Greece

a. Primary Education, which includes Kindergarten and Primary School
b. Secondary Education, which includes High School, General High School and Vocational High School (EPA.L.) and
c. Tertiary Education, which includes the University – Higher Educational Institutions (A.E.I.) and the Higher Technological Educational Institutions (A.TE.I.).

Sending your children to the local school in Greece is a good idea, especially if your children are fairly young because young children pick up languages very easily an extra advantage being that they can help you with your struggle to learn the language! There are regional differences in the paperwork which is required to enroll your child at the local school.

However, you will need birth certificates of both parents and the child/ren. You may also be asked to provide evidence that your child has had all the required vaccinations to date. Older children need to prove that they have attended school before and a letter from a former Head will suffice. Note, that it may be a good idea to get all the necessary documentation officially translated into Greek before you begin the process.

As in all European countries, the Greek educational system is governed by laws and administrative Acts. The Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, which implements the national policy for education, has the overall responsibility. Education in Greece is compulsory for all children 6-15 years old. Formal education is characterized by the fixed length of study, the possibility of repetition, and the award of a formal school-leaving certificate, which is the official recognition. A diploma (school-leaving certificate, degree, etc.) is compulsory for students at each educational level in order to continue to the next.

Geographical Accessibility

The policy of the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs is to support every school regardless of its location. For this reason, special measures are taken so that education may reach the most distant parts of the country. In order to serve pupils, there is a dispersion of all the types of nipiagogeia (kindergartens) and demotika scholeia (primary schools) in all the regions of the country and compensatory measures are taken in order to eliminate or limit educational inequalities between the centre and the periphery. The type of schools (from 1 to 12 teachers) depends on the number of pupils.
Access to schools of pupils living in inaccessible or sparsely populated regions that do not have a corresponding school unit, directly accessible, is achieved using long distance buses or other means of transport, suitable for each case. This cost is charged to the state totally, with no other charge for the pupils.


The Greek educational system consists of three successive levels: Primary (Dimotiko), Secondary (Gymnasio) and Tertiary education level. . However, school life can begin from the age of 2.5 years (pre-school education) in both public and private institutions called Vrefonipiakoi Paidikoi Stathmi (crèches). Thus, Primary education level can be divided into pre-school education, non-compulsory Kindergarten (Nipiagogeia) , and compulsory Primary education. For pre-schoolers, private nurseries do exist but can be expensive. Kindergarten begins at 4 years old and is free. You just need to buy things like paper, pencils and glue for them to take with them.

The first stage Primary (Demotic School ) of compulsory education takes children from 5/6 to 12 years of age. The Secondary education level is also divided into two cycles. The Lower Level Secondary which takes place at Gymnasiums is compulsory until the age of 15 when children may leave school. The next level, Upper Secondary Education is not compulsory and can be followed at the Unified Lyceums and Technical Vocational Educational Institutes.

Finally, we get to the Tertiary level which is divided into university education offered by the universities and non-university education available from Higher Technological Educational Institutes and Higher Education Institutions. There also exists, in many big cities in Greece, English schools where English speaking children can go after school for extra reading and writing in English.
In 1997 an effort was made by UNESCO to internationally classify educational systems based on seven levels of education which were described in the International Standard Classification of Education – ISCED 1997. These levels of education are:

Isced level 0 – Pre-school education
Isced level 1 – Primary education
Isced level 2 – Lower secondary education
Isced level 3 – Higher secondary education
Isced level 4 – Post-secondary, non-university education
Isced level 5 – University education
Isced level 6 – Postgraduate studies