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Greece

Secondary Education

Secondary education lasts six years, from age 11 and a half to 17 and a half. It is divided into two three-year successive cycles. The lower three grades are the gymnasium. The upper three grades are the lyceum.


The purpose of the gymnasium is to promote pupils' learning potential according to their abilities and the needs of society. The state pursues this goal by offering to all pupils the same curriculum. There are no elective subjects in the gymnasium curriculum. The concern for full formal equality of educational opportunities is thus given precedence over that of offering an education that is adapted to particular needs and interests. Attendance is compulsory.

In 1993-1994 there were 1,713 public gymnasiums with 32,328 teachers (20,203 female) and 417,752 pupils (201,375 female). The ratio of pupils to teachers was 12:9 (NSSG 2000).

Pupils graduating from the gymnasium receive a school-leaving certificate (apolyterion), without examination. It mentions the acquired attainment levels in the various subjects and enables the holder to enroll in any of the upper secondary schools without any examination. About 60 percent of the gymnasium graduates enroll in the general lyceum, 25 percent in the technical/vocational lyceum, 5 percent to the integrated lyceum, and about 10 percent to the technical vocational schools (Kallen 1996).

The dropout rate in 1994 was 8.9 percent for all students of the gymnasium. It varied from region to region, from 1 to 29 percent. The highest rates were in the Aegean and the Ionian Islands, Crete, and Trace. The dropout rate was higher among boys than among girls, 10.4 and 7.4 percent respectively. This is probably because boys, especially in these regions, are frequently called to work at a young age in their parents' businesses of farming, fishing, or tourism (OECD 1997; Kallen 1996).

The lyceum aims to build pupils' character and personality so that they may contribute to the social, economic, and cultural development of the country. It provides students with guidance for further studies or career choice. There are: general, integrated, and technical/vocational lyceums, and technical/vocational schools.

The general lyceum offers courses preparing students for higher education. There are both day and evening lyceums. The latter—for students who must work during the day—last four years. The first- and second-year curriculum covers religion, ancient and modern Greek language and literature, history, psychology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, physical education and foreign languages—a total of 30 hours a week. Third-year subjects are divided into general education and college-preparatory subjects. The latter are divided into four branches(desmes), each leading to a certain type of higher education institution. Students are examined in the preparatory subjects on a national level. Branches A and B focus on mathematics and natural sciences. Branch C focuses on ancient Greek, Latin, and history. Branch D focuses on history, sociology, and economics.

In 1993-1994 there were 1,075 day general lyceums and 35 evening general lyceums with 18,034 teachers (8,937 female). The same teachers teach in both. There were 232,168 day students (129,524 female), and 4,726 evening students (1,991 female) (NSSG 2000).

Graduates of the general lyceum receive a leaving-certificate without final examinations. It indicates achievement in the various subjects. They are eligible to compete in the university entrance examinations.

The integrated lyceum aims to interconnect and deepen the objectives and curricula of the general and technical/vocational lyceums. In 1993-1994 there were 25 public integrated lyceums with 2,116 teachers (1,079 female) and 21,993 students (11,859 female). The pupil/teacher ratio was 10.4. (NSSG 2000). Half the curriculum is similar to that of general lyceum in all three years. In the second year, half the subjects are electives associated with broad groups of professions. In the third year, more specialized subjects are added.

The technical-vocational lyceum aims to teach pupils the necessary technical and vocational knowledge and skills that will enable them to successfully work in the respective technical or vocational fields upon leaving school. In the first year, pupils are introduced to subjects in a technical/vocational field. In the second year, workshops are added. In the third year, students choose any of the four branches, as in the general lyceum.

Graduates of the integrated and the technical/vocational lyceums either attend non-university higher education (TEIs) or enter the job market in the field of their specialization.

Technical/vocational schools (TES) have a two-year course of study for day students, and three-year study for evening students. Six hours cover general subjects such as modern Greek, mathematics, physics, foreign languages, and civil education. The remaining 24 hours cover specialization subjects and workshop training. Graduates of TES have access to corresponding employment, to the first grade of the general lyceum, or to the second grade of the technical/vocational lyceum.

Students can move freely from primary school to the gymnasium and then to the lyceum. Every pupil has a chance to compete for entrance to the institutions of higher learning, both academic and technical. They can also move horizontally between technical/vocational schools and the lyceum and, after the first grade of the lyceum, between the general lyceum and the technical/vocational lyceum.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGreece - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education