This chapter provides a thematic and chronological overview of national reforms and policy developments in the education sector since 2021.
The introduction of the chapter describes the overall education strategy and the key objectives across the whole education system. It also looks at how the education reform process is organised and who are the main actors in the decision-making process. The section on ongoing reforms and policy developments groups reforms in the following broad thematic areas that largely correspond to education levels:
- Early childhood education and care
- School education
- VET and adult learning
- Higher education
- Transversal skills and employability.
Inside each thematic area, reforms are organised chronologically. The most recent reforms are described first.
Overall national education strategy and key objectives
After taking office on 30 March 2022, Portugal’s 23rd Government has continued the strategy initiated in 2016 and 2019, prioritising public education, while ensuring equity, quality and qualifications.
Important structural measures include:
- Defining the Exit profile of students leaving compulsory education.
- Adopting curricular flexibility measures in basic and secondary education (Decree-Law No 55/2018, 6 July).
- Legal framework of inclusive education (Decree-law No 54/2018, 6 July, amended by Law No 116/2019, 13 September).
- The National Strategy for Citizenship Education (ENEC).
- Schools developing innovation plans (Ordinance No 181/2019, 11 June).
- The National Programme for the Promotion of School Success (Programa Nacional Promoção do Sucesso Escolar - PNPSE) created by the Resolution of Council of Ministers No 23/2016, 23 March.
- Developing the adult education system via the Qualifica Programme (Council of Ministers’ Resolution No 32/2019, 14 February).
The 23rd Government Programme prioritises the following areas:
- Modernising the educational system
- Improving the status of the teaching profession
- Increasing the number of students supported by social services and institutionalisation of multi-annual scholarships in higher education
- Combating inequalities through education, via an inclusive school, providing continuity to the 21|23 Escola+ Plan. This foresees the empowerment of schools, as well as the implementation of new programmes to support learning and the development of socio-emotional skills
- Improving learning via integrated strategies based on principles such as pedagogical differentiation, identifying key competencies that form part of the exit profile of students leaving compulsory education, better benchmarking tools, improving and diversifying learning strategies and, most of all, action at the first sign of difficulty
- Investing in the collective future, boosting investment in higher education by continuing the work done in basic and upper secondary education
- Encouraging students to study in higher education and combating dropouts
- Prioritising the Qualifica Programme as key to improving the adult population’s qualifications, targeting and reaching hundreds of thousands of people, recognising skills and learning while adapting training paths to individual profiles and needs
- extending higher education to new sectors of the public.
Overview of the education reform process and drivers
The main reference point for ongoing educational policies and reforms is the Education Act (Lei de Bases do Sistema Educativo – 1986): the right to education and culture, equal opportunities and the freedom to teach and learn, as detailed in the Constitution of the Republic. These policies should be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals established in 2015 by the United Nations.
Schools’ and teachers’ involvement in constructing and managing curriculum (autonomy and curriculum flexibility) contributes to the development of more student-centred pedagogical approaches and improving learning quality. This assumption led to the definition of two key documents: Essential Learning (Aprendizagens Essenciais - AE) drafted by teachers' associations, authors and/or scientific societies and the Exit profile of students leaving compulsory education.
Other strategic documents include:
- Strategy Portugal 2030, which embodies the vision for the next decade and is the reference framework for various policy instruments, such as the Recovery and Resilience Plan(RRP) and the next Community Support Framework 2021-27 (Portugal 2030)
- The Action Plan for Digital Education (2021-2027)
- The Learning Recovery Plan (PRA)