Did you know? Throughout history, the Portuguese have affected the advancement of education and educational facilities, both nationally and as far afield as Brazil, Africa and India.
A brief history
Portugal has certainly made its mark in the history of education. In 1792, the Portuguese were responsible for founding one of the world’s oldest engineering schools located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now maintained by the Brazilian Army, the school is recognised for having produced some of Brazil's most notable researchers and public figures.
Goa Medical Collage in India was also established by the Portuguese back in 1842. Now part of Goa University, it’s the oldest medical college in Asia.
In Southern Africa, the Portuguese colonial authorities, who ruled Angola from the 16th century until 1975, played a major role in the development of the Angolan education system. They founded the country’s first university in the 1960s, (Universidade de Luanda) and, by the 1970s, the majority of secondary school teachers were Portuguese.
In Portugal itself, universities date back to the 13th century, but education was limited to a small percentage of the population until the 1960s, when it became available for all children between the ages of six and twelve. A network of industrial and commercial technical schools followed, providing intermediate education of future skilled workers. The only concordatary university (non-state-run) of the Catholic Church was opened in Lisbon in 1967 and became officially recognised in 1971. By 1973 a number of new state-run universities were founded across mainland Portugal.
Between the 1960s and the mid 1970s, secondary and university education was on an upward spiral in Portugal. From this point until the end of the century, the availability of basic and secondary education, as well as of higher education, increased substantially.
However, any more than basic education (4th or 6th grade) wasn't affordable for most Portuguese families until the 1980s, when a comprehensive system of education became available to all children and young adults in Portugal. In recent years, Portugal has seen the modernisation of many of its schools and the introduction of ‘educational centres’ to help manage the increasing volume of students.
Regardless of its influence on international education over the years, looking at Portugal as a whole, the higher-education rate is still the lowest in the EU. According to the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), since 2010, PISA assessment results for Portuguese students has improved dramatically. However, results of the 2012 assessment revealed that they still ranked below average against other OECD countries.
Education in the Algarve
Despite the below average PISA results for Portugal, the quality of education in the Algarve region is considered to be of a high standard, with a particularly wide range of options for expat children. The region offers a good choice of pre-school facilities and primary and secondary schools. These include state-run and independent schools; there are a number of International and British schools across the Algarve offering the British GCSE or the International Baccalaureate system.
There’s also a regional public university in Faro (Universidade do Algarve), which accommodates around 10,000 students and has an excellent reputation. It offers undergraduate and post-graduate courses, as well as Masters courses, across a broad range of subjects.
The level of education in Portugal has increased significantly in the past 50 years, with the modernisation of the country’s existing schools, the development of new learning centres and the improvement in its teaching systems. Here in the Algarve, the integration of different nationalities and cultures is adding a new and exciting element to education within our schools.
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