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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in adult education and training


12.Educational support and guidance

12.7Support measures for learners in adult education and training

Last update: 30 March 2023

Definition of the target groups  

People who have not completed the 1st cycle of basic education

A significant proportion of Portuguese adults do not have the basic competences to access qualifications, such as adult education and training courses, recognition, validation and certification of competences and certified modular training.

It is important to create training strategies that allow these adults to acquire the basic competences necessary to take courses where they can acquire greater skills and certification, as well as experiencing greater autonomy, self-study and cooperative work. By attending basic skills training programmes (basic reading, writing, calculation and ICT), adults get access to further training and qualifications, therefore contributing to social integration and increasing employability levels.

The unemployed

In accordance with measures taken to consolidate and improve the Portuguese population’s standard of qualifications, particularly the unemployed, improving their employability, Ordinance No 203/2013, 17 June, determined that the training courses taught as part of the developed under the Active Life (Vida Ativa) strategy - QUALIFICA + aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of active employment measures and is designed for unemployed adults enrolled at Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (Instituto de Emprego e Formação Profissional - IEFP, I.P.) job centres and a Qualifica Centre, who boast qualifications that may vary between grade four and unfinished grade six; or unemployed adults who already have grade six, but did not finish grade nine. Training courses must include ICT in the basic training component and can be done via modular training courses, training in a work context or RVCC processes.

Foreign nationals living in Portugal

Having become an important aspect of contemporary societies, migratory movements have increasingly posed the challenge of finding a political model able of ensuring freedom and respect for the rights of every individual and group, regardless of their origin and subsequent growing social, linguistic and cultural diversification.

As such, talking about integration implies talking about citizenship, the right of having rights (civil, political and social), the democratic respect for pluralism, tolerance based on reciprocity and sharing, in order to build a more cohesive, just and humane society.

From this perspective, providing the individual migrant with knowledge of the language of the country is a responsibility of the host society, in order to give security when relating to others, in expressing themselves (what they think, feel, want, disagree about ...) and understanding others, because the right to equality and citizenship involves understanding the language and the culture underlying it, in different social contexts, in the various interpersonal relations there that are established via linguistic and non-linguistic action.

Specific support measures

The Methodological Guide for Persons with Disabilities Gaining Access to Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences (RVCC) process – Basic Education Level was published in May 2009. This represented a special tool that supported the RVCC processes for competences acquired through formal, non-formal and informal ways, tailored to the specific demands of these sections of the population.

In 2010, the National Strategy on Disability 2011-2013 was approved via the publication of the Council of Ministers Resolution No 97/2010, 14 December. This legislation stipulates a set of measures to combat discrimination and improve living conditions of people with disabilities, impacting on vocational training, employment and lifelong qualification, in which the training frameworks and respective vocational profiles tailored to people with disabilities are included in the National Qualifications Catalogue (Catálogo Nacional de Qualificações  - CNQ).

These training pathways, which aim to help people with disabilities improve their qualifications, facilitating employability and promoting lifelong learning, include a training component for integration, a technological training component, a practical training component and a basic training component organised according to the Methodological Guide for Persons with Disabilities Gaining Access to Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences Process – Basic Education Level. They are tailored to people with disabilities of various kinds, such as sensory, physical, mental or multiple disabilities, and last between 2,900-3,600 hours.

The training sessions are organised by the IEFP, I.P. as a public employment service that conducts vocational retraining in conjunction with ANQEP, I.P. and the Retraining Bodies Federations (Federações das Entidades de Reabilitação), with the retraining bodies also acting as  training bodies.

2023 is European Year of Skills and an important year, due to the various commitments and responsibilities to be adopted. Portugal has a specific work programme that prioritises investment in the adult population with concrete goals. This involves funding more training and more qualifications via Qualifica Centres, Qualification and Vocational Education Centres, apprenticeship courses and adult education and training courses.

For more information, see Subchapter 3.3 Adult education and training funding.

People who have not completed the 1st cycle of basic education

Ordinance No 1100/2010, 22 October, as last amended by Ordinance No 216-C/2012, 18 July, establishes the conditions for a training programme that teaches basic skills in reading, writing, calculation and the use of information and communication technologies, taught in training units and geared towards adults who want to improve their qualifications.

The curricula of the basic competences training programme are divided into six short training units of 50 hours each, which are integrated into the CNQ:

  • Reading and writing (initiation)
  • Reading and writing (further study)
  • Reading and writing (consolidation)
  • Calculation (initiation)
  • Calculation (further study)
  • Information and Communication Technology (awareness-raising).

The programme sessions have a duration ranging from 150 to 300 hours depending on the goals of each project and group characteristics, and are organised by public schools, overseen by the Ministry of Education, and vocational training centres managed by IEFP, I.P. either directly or via protocol.

Foreign nationals living in Portugal

Implementing the provisions of Ordinance No 183/2020, 5 August, the National Qualifications Catalogue has a set of 12 short training units (Unidades de Formação de Curta Duração  - UFCD) in the area of Portuguese as a host language to meet the needs of foreign nationals living in Portugal. The short training units for elementary users cover A1 and A2 levels of language proficiency, while the training units for independent users cover B1 and B2 levels. There is also a short course of graphics and the alphabet in Portuguese for users of other writing systems, for students who use an alphabet other than Latin or another writing system.

The courses are organised by public school network, the IEFP centres network and the Qualifica Centre network and are taught by teachers working in the area of Portuguese teaching, preferably with specific training in teaching Portuguese as a foreign language or second language, or by trainers duly certified in the same field.