Education in Spain
Schooling in Spain is state funded and is compulsory between the ages of six years and sixteen, given that no courses are repeated. Although non-university education in state-funded schools is free in Spain, parents must pay for books, materials, and sometimes uniforms for their children. Once the required schooling is finished, a student can then opt to continue on to high school (bachillerato) or move on to a vocational school. Only those who finish high school can be admitted to a university.
There are three categories of Spanish schools in the Spanish education system: public schools (colegios públicos), state-funded private schools (colegios concertados) and private schools (colegios privados). Since some private schools are publically funded the line between public and private is blurred.
Spanish school hours depend on each type of school. Some may run from 9 am through 5 pm with a two hour lunch break. Other schools may begin at 9 and end at 2 pm, the typical lunch time in Spain. Some schools may have only a one hour lunch break and may or may not provide a cafeteria for children to eat at the school. For working parents, Spanish schools offer a paid morning program starting as early as 7 am and an afterschool program of extracurricular activities, free or paid for, depending on the activity.
The literacy rate of a country, while not a perfect measure, is often used to rank educational systems worldwide. According to the CIA World Factbook, 97.9% of Spain's population was literate in 2003. The figure encompasses a literacy rate in Spain of 98.7% among males and 97.2% among females. Literacy, in this case, is defined as a percentage of the population over the age of 15 that is able to read and write. Other sources indicate that the Spanish literacy rate is actually higher.
The structure of the Spanish Education System follows the Fundamental Law of Education, known as LOE in Spain.
Preschool in Spain is divided into two cycles, the first cycle is for children between the ages of 0-3 years old and the second cycle is for children from 3-6 years old. The first cycle of preschool is not free, although there are aid programs for families in need. The second cycle of preschool education in Spain is free for all students. This cycle is often considered as an integral part of the education system. Normally, the first cycle of preschool is taught in special nursery schools or daycares (colegios infantiles) and the second cycle is taught at primary schools. However, more and more primary schools in Spain are beginning to offer the first cycle of preschool as well.
Spanish Primary School
Primary school in Spain, often referred to as simply “colegio”, is the beginning of the government required education in Spain. Primary school is made up of 6 academic school years from age 6 through 12. The system is divided into three cycles of 2 years each. Generally, the first cycle is from age 6-7, the second cycle from 8-9, and the third cycle from 10-11 years of age.