Compulsory education in Portugal lasts nine years, taking pupils from the age of six to fifteen. In state-run (public) schools this basic education is free. Because of high unemployment and low educational attainment levels the Government is (late 2010) considering sending young unemployed back into either vocational or mainstream education.
Financial assistance may be available for extra expenses such as school meals, transport and textbooks, depending on the family's circumstances.
The Ministry of Education (Ministério da Educação) is responsible for the administration of state schools in Portugal.
Learning a foreign language (English, French, German or Spanish) is compulsory in the second cycle of basic compulsory education. However, some pupils may begin learning a foreign language (usually French or English) in the first cycle.
In the third cycle, pupils will take on a second foreign language (English, French, German or Spanish). This means that within their basic and secondary education students will have to study at least two foreign languages, and many learn a third.
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