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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Secondary and post-secondary higher education


6.Secondary and post-secondary higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Main characteristics

Secondary education

Secondary education in Greece is divided into two cycles:

  1. compulsory secondary education and
  2. non-compulsory secondary education.

I.    Compulsory secondary education is provided in lower secondary school, day and evening. It lasts for three years.

II.    The secondary non-compulsory education that follows is distinguished:

  • In the general provided in the General upper secondary schools, day or evening, three years of study.
  • In the vocational, provided:
    • In Vocational upper secondary schools, day or evening, three years of study.
    • In the Vocational Training Schools, day or evening, two years of study.
    • In the Vocational Apprenticeship Schools of Manpower Employment Organisation, two years of study.

Post-secondary education

I. The Vocational upper secondary school also offers a post-secondary course, the "Apprenticeship Class". The study is optional, while the holders of diploma and degree are enrolled in it.

II. The main provider of post-secondary non-higher education are the Vocational Training Institutes. They operate in the context of formal education and can lead to obtaining nationally recognized certificates.

III. Finally, the Colleges are providers of non-formal post-secondary education and training services. They are private entities. They award degrees, titles, study certificates or any other certificate which can be recognised as professionally equivalent to higher education degrees awarded by the Greek formal education system.

National policy

Law 4547/2018 currently in effect establishes new structures to support educational work:

  • Regional Centers for Educational Planning. The Regional centres for educational planning are abolished but continue to perform their tasks according to the provisions of law 4547/2018 as before as far as the selection and placement of Education counselors, Regional supervisors of the quality of education as well as Supervisors of the quality of education. 
  • Centre of interdisciplinary assessment, counseling & support 
  • School Networks of Educational Support 
  • Interdisciplinary support committees for general and vocational education school units 
  • Environment and sustainability training center.

In order for all children to have equal opportunities, “Educational priority zones” have been established. This is a program that concerns positive actions and additional funding for schools in areas where there are difficulties in education due to:

  • Geographical
  • Social
  • Economic factors.

In response to the need of adapting to the digital revolution, a plan is being developed that will lead all schools, without exception, to the digital age. A strong network of infrastructures is being created at the service of Greek students so that students in the most remote areas can have the same opportunities and the same media in terms of digital media.

The Ministry of Education approved the quality framework of vocational education and training curricula with Ministerial Decision 26412 / 16-2-2017. It aims to ensure quality in vocational education and training, while at the same time it is in line with the strategic framework for European cooperation in the fields of education and training.

Law 4763/2020 establishes a National System of Vocational Education and Training, which is developed at levels three (3), four (4) and five (5) of the National Qualifications Framework (Framework), in accordance with those of the European Qualifications Framework. More specifically:

  • at level three (3) are the Vocational Training Schools and the Vocational Apprenticeship Schools of Manpower Employment Organisation 
  • at level four (4) are the Vocational upper secondary schools and the upper secondary schools of the Unified Special Vocational secondary schools and
  • at level five (5) the Vocational Training Institutes (IEK) and the Post-Secondary Year - Apprenticeship Class.

The purpose of the establishment of the National System of Vocational Education and Training according to Law 4763/2020 is the redesign of the regulatory framework and the forms of inputs and outputs of vocational education and training to improve the knowledge, skills and abilities of the country's human resources, the more effective adaptation and response to the ever-changing needs of society and the labor market, taking into account the internationalized employment environment, in order to be a pillar of a conscious alternative choice for education-training of the population of the country.

In the context of post-secondary education, the National Organization for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance is the staff certification body. The Organization undertakes the certification of the inputs and outputs of education and training providers such as the Vocational Training Institutes and the Apprenticeship Class.

General Targets

The purpose of the general compulsory secondary education provided in gymnasio (lower secondary school), is to promote the comprehensive development of students in relation to the opportunities they have at this age and the corresponding requirements of life (Law 1566/1985).

In particular, the gymnasio (lower secondary school), among other purposes, helps students to:

  1. Expand their value system and focus on creative goals and humanitarian practice.
  2. To complement and combine the acquisition of knowledge with the corresponding social concerns.
  3. To successfully deal with various situations and seek solutions to the problems of life responsibly, in a climate of creative dialogue and collective effort.
  4. To cultivate their linguistic expression, in order to express their thoughts in oral and written speech with clarity and correctness.
  5. To realize their potentials, inclinations, skills and interests
  6. To acquire knowledge about the various professions and to seek their further improvement within the framework of cultural, social and economic life.

The purpose of the general non-compulsory education provided at the General Lyceum (upper secondary school) (day and evening), according to law 4186/2013, is the gradual deepening and specialization in the individual subjects, but also:

  1. The provision of a high level of general education, which contributes to the balanced cognitive, emotional, spiritual and physical development of all students.
  2. The promotion of critical thinking, initiative, creativity and students' abilities.
  3. The development of knowledge application skills and problem solving
  4. The cultivation of our national, religious and cultural heritage but also the preparation of young people for European civil society
  5. Respect for human rights, diversity and cultural diversity in a multicultural society
  6. The strengthening of the values of freedom, democracy, collegiality and solidarity and the formation of an active citizen consciousness
  7. The cultivation of skills that will facilitate students' access to the labour market.
  8. The ensuring of a balanced school life so that students are enabled to combine knowledge, free time and creativity and are also enabled to contribute to the production of common projects within the educational community in which they participate.
  9. The cultivation of every individual’s ability for critical approach as well as the development of skills  allowing them to exploit the new information and communications technology.

According to law 4186/2013, the objectives of vocational education services provided by epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools) (day and evening) can be summarised as follows:

  1. Provision of general high quality education.
  2. Preparation of young people to join the European civil society.
  3. Reinforcement of the values of freedom, democracy, collegiality, and solidarity and formation of active citizenship awareness.
  4. Provision of integrated vocational skills and competences that facilitate students’ access to the labour market.
  5. Strengthening the ability to keep abreast with developments in the employment sector.
  6. Reception and assimilation of new technological and professional knowledge, skills and competences within the framework of lifelong learning.
  7. Career advancement through higher education level studies.
  8. Development of actions for quality assurance in technical-vocational education.

The purposes of the Vocational Training Schools and the Vocational Apprenticeship Schools of Manpower Employment Organization, according to law 4763/2020, are, among others, the following: 

  1. the provision of initial vocational education and training services to graduates with a degree of compulsory education or a degree equivalent to it,
  2. tackling school dropout, upgrading the basic skills of holders of compulsory education or equivalent and integrating them into the labor market.
  3. with regard to Vocational Training Schools: ensuring the integration into the professional life of vulnerable and vulnerable social groups;
  4. with regard to the Vocational Apprenticeship Schools of Manpower Employment Organization: the provision of post-secondary vocational education level three (3), with application of the binary system, which combines theoretical and laboratory training in the classroom with apprenticeship in the workplace.

The purposes of public & private IEK, according to Law 4763/2020, are, among others, the following:

  1. the provision of initial vocational training to graduates of non-compulsory secondary, education, ie General Lyceums and vocational upper secondary schools, as well as to holders of equivalent degrees and
  2. the provision of the corresponding qualifications to the trainees, by the teaching of scientific, technical, professional and practical knowledge and the cultivation of corresponding skills, in order to facilitate their professional integration and to ensure their adaptation to the changing needs of the production process.

The purposes of the Post-Secondary Year - Apprenticeship Class, according to Law 4763/2020, are, among others, the following:

  1. the provision of initial vocational training services to graduates of non-compulsory secondary vocational education, as well as to holders of equivalent qualifications, who possess a basic level of knowledge, skills and competences;
  2. the upgrading of the professional qualifications of the graduates of the non-compulsory secondary vocational education, through a learning path that utilizes the existing professional knowledge, skills and abilities; and
  3. the further enhancement of the opportunities for the integration of the graduates of the non-compulsory secondary vocational education in the labor market, through the acquisition of work experience utilizing the apprenticeship methodology.

Finally, the aims and objectives of vocational education and training (VET) as well as the principles that govern the curricula of VET, according to Ministerial Decision 26412/16-02-2017, move in general in broader framework of the principles and purposes of general education, but at the same time aim at:

  1. In the development of knowledge application skills and problem solving in authentic professional environments.
  2. Acquisition of qualifications in accordance with the national qualifications framework
  3. In creating conditions that provide each person with the possibility of lifelong learning ("I learn how to learn", self-directed learning, problem solving).
  4. In the formation of a responsible professional conscience and identity but also in the promotion of the principles of education for sustainable development.
  5. In the cultivation of values of cooperation and environmental awareness but also in the emphasis on issues of occupational health and safety.