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High school education differs in the countries of the world


In Victoria the name was officially changed to secondary college in the early 1990s, however some of the adult population refer to the period as "high school". In the Australian Capital Territory high school is years 7-10, and students go to senior school for years 11-12.

In some states TAFE institutes/colleges offer high school equivalent courses, usually undertaken by adult students who left school without completing/undertaking Year 12 leaving certificate requirements. There are also private commercial education facilities offering Year 12 leaving certificate courses, often to students wishing to improve on their high school results in order to obtain entry to, or better placement opportunities at, university.

The exact length of secondary schooling varies from state to state, with high schools in New South Wales and Victoria serving years 7-12, and Western Australia, Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australia serving years 8-12. In 2007 Northern Territory is introducing a Middle School system for years 7-9 and high school will be years 10-12. In 2010 Western Australia will implement year 7 into the high school, reflecting that of New South Wales and Victoria.

The age until which it is compulsory to attend school varies by state:

  • 15 in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and Northern Territory
  • 16 in South Australia (17 in 2009) and Victoria
  • 17 in Tasmania, Queensland, and Western Australia

In some states students can leave school at a younger age usually 14 if they are involved in other full-time activities such as work, apprenticeship or TAFE.

The matter of compulsory attendance has been complicated by various initiatives at Commonwealth and State level to ensure that young people are in school, training or employment. There are calls to replace compulsory attendance age with compulsory achievement requirements, meaning that students must complete their final year level rather than being able to leave at reaching "leaving age". There are also calls to make attendance to the end of year 12 mandatory.


Main article: Education in Brazil

In Brazil, high school is officially called Ensino Médio and is also informally known as Colegial or Segundo Grau. It is the last phase to the basic education in this country. Brazilian high school lasts 3 years, attempting to deepen what students learn in elementary school and junior high. A Brazilian high school student is referenced by their year - 1st, 2nd and 3rd years.

Unlike some countries, Brazilian students don't have a final test to conclude studies. Your approval depends only on your final grade on each subject. Each university elaborates its own test to select new students - this test is called the "vestibular", and happens once a year, mainly. Enem, a non-mandatory national exam, evaluates high school students in Brazil and is used to rank schools, both private and public.

Education is a strong issue in Brazil and one shall distinguish among public and private high schools. The best scores in vestibular and in Enem [1] and the best universities are also concentrated on the South-east zone of the country, that covers from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. The lack of funds and historical and social problems contribute majorly to a poor frequency from the students, especially those in public schools. Some ones, nevertheless, are national models, such as the Colégio Pedro II, created on the 19th century for this inphant emperor.

Private establishments, on the other hand, may be recognized as excellent or just a good investment. Schedule varies from school to school. The subjects, however, are conceived by the Ministério da Educação (Ministry of Education) and are particularly accurate on the scientific area (such as Chemistry).

Educational year starts on February and ends on December - but institutions are allowed to define the dates by their own. They must grant 200 days of classes, though.

Universites are also divided in public and private. In this level, however, public ones are considered as excellent and their vestibular exam is very competitive (the exam for med school in UNICAMP may hit 300 candidates per place). For a better preparation, therefore, parents pay also a curso pré-vestibular (external classes that prepares the exams). Larger private institutions offer, today, high school and curso pré-vestibular.


Main article: Education in Canada

Secondary schooling in Canada differs depending on the province in which one resides. In Ontario, high school is usually from grades 9 to 12, but can be from 7 to 12 depending on the school's location (urban/rural). In most urban areas in Ontario, schools with grades 7 and 8 are referred to as Middle School or Senior Public. When grades 7 - 9 are together, it is referred to as Junior High School. In Alberta high school starts in grade 10 and finshes in grade 12. However in Quebec, high school is from Secondary 1 to Secondary 5 (grades 7 to 11[1]). In Quebec most students follow high school by attending a CÉGEP, which is comparable to a two-year junior college and is obligatory for Quebec students wishing to go on to university. Vocational CÉGEP is three years.

Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 in every province in Canada, except for New Brunswick (where the compulsory age is 18). Students may continue to attend high school until the ages of 19 to 21 (the cut-off age for high school varies between province). Those 19 and over may attend adult school. Also if high schoolers are expelled or suspended for a period of time over 2 months or so they could attend night school at the high school.

Originally schools were divided by religion, although most provinces have since abolished these. Provinces such as Ontario, Alberta, and certain cities in Saskatchewan are exceptions, publicly funded by a separate school board.

Quebec replaced their religious based system with an English and French school board system in 1998. Students in Quebec can only attend a publicly funded English-language school (through high school) if at least one of their parents attended an English-language school somewhere in Canada. Otherwise, their only publicly funded option would be a French-language school. This requirement was implemented to encourage the children of immigrants living in Quebec to attend French-language schools. Of course, anyone is free to choose to pay to attend a private school in the language he or she chooses.

There are a variety of private schools across Canada. The first school was opened by Carl Hunso, an American biologist in 1780[How to reference and link to summary or text]


Main article: Education in Finland

The Finnish education system is a comparatively egalitarian Nordic system. This means for example no tuition fees for full-time students and free meals are served to pupils. There are private schools but they are made unattractive by legislation.

The second level education is not compulsory, but an overwhelming majority attends. There is a choice between upper secondary school (lukio, gymnasium) and vocational school (ammatillinen oppilaitos, yrkesinstitut).

Upper secondary school, unlike vocational school, concludes with a nationally graded matriculation examination (ylioppilastutkinto, studentexamen). Passing the test is a de facto prerequisite for further education. The system is designed so that approximately the lowest scoring 5% fails in each exam and also 5% get the best grade. The exam allows for a limited degree of specialization in either natural sciences or social sciences. The graduation is an important and formal family event, like christening, wedding, and funeral.

In the OECD's international assessment of student performance, PISA, Finland has consistently been among the highest scorers worldwide; in 2003, Finnish 15-year-olds came first in reading literacy, science, and mathematics; and second in problem solving, worldwide. The World Economic Forum ranks Finland's tertiary education #1 in the world.[2]


Main article: Education in India

In India, high school is a grade of education which includes Standards IX to XII. Standards XI and XII are also called Senior Secondary School or Junior College. Some states refer to Standards IX and X as High School, while XI and XII are termed as Intermediate. Other states refer to VI, VII, VIII, IX and X (grades 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) as Secondary School and XI and XII (grades 11 and 12) as Senior Secondary School. Usually, students from ages 14 to 18 study in this section. These schools may be affiliated to national boards like CBSE or ISC or various state boards. Education is compulsory until age 14. The education system in India is considered to be one of the hardest in the world.


Main article: Education in Ireland

In Ireland, students attend secondary school from first year through sixth (usually aged 12 to 18), with an optional 4th year known as Transition Year. Once a student turns 16, they have the option to legally leave school. Secondary school is divided into three parts; the Junior Cycle, encompassing first year through third, at the end of which students sit the Junior Certificate; Transition Year, an optional fourth year; and the Senior Cycle, from fifth year through sixth, at the end of which students sit the Leaving Certificate.


Main article: Education in Israel

In Israel, high school or Tichon (intermediary school, in Hebrew) is a three-year school period, from the 10th to the 12th grade. Only the first year of high school is compulsory, yet most pupils in Israel attend high school. High school prepares the pupil to the Bagrut examination, which is obligatory in order to continue to higher education institution and in order to be accepted for most jobs.


File:Japanese school uniform dsc06051.jpg
Main article: Secondary education in Japan

The Japanese word for a high school is kōtōgakkō (高等学校; literally high school), or kōkō (高校) in short. High school in Japan covers grades 10 through 12, and it is not mandatory. Most Japanese people attend high school. The third year of high school in Japan is allotted for students to prepare for college exams known as "juken" (受験). Others may wish to settle for a job instead. High schools in Japan are referred to by MEXT as "upper secondary schools." However most English-language newspapers and sources use the term "high school". Many school boards also use "high school"; for instance the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education uses "senior high school".


Main article: Education in Macedonia

High school in Macedonia is called "средно училиште" or "middle school", and the structure is left from the socialists period. Reforms are conducting at the moment, so the education would be appropriate with the most of the leading world countries.That means that there are still many forms. In general there is high school for preparing for every faculty on the university. There are: electro technical high school, mechanical high school, economics high school, pharmaceutical, medical,...and natural sciences and linguistics gymnasium. The high school is attended between the years of 14 and 18.

The NetherlandsEdit

Main article: Education in the Netherlands

In The Netherlands, high school is called "middelbare school" (literally: "middle school)" and starts right after the 8th grade of primary school (group 8). The pupils who attend high school are around the age of 12. And because the education in the Netherlands is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 (and partial compulsory between the ages of 16 and 18), all pupils must attend high school.

The high schools are part of the "voortgezet onderwijs" (literally: "continued education"). The "voortgezet onderwijs" consist of 3 main streams; vmbo (has 4 grades), havo (has 5 grades) and vwo (has 6 grades). The pupils usually can't choose the type of secondary education they want to follow, it depends on the opinion of the group 8 teacher.


Main article: Education in Portugal

In Portuguese, the word for high school is liceu or now commonly called Escola Secundária (secondary school which also includes 7 to 9 grade) and covers grades 10 through 12 (ages 14 or 15 to 17 or 18). After this period, students will ingress into an Universidade (University) or Politécnico (Polytechnic). Students may choose to pursue an artistic career instead of continuing their studies. Nowadays, the Portuguese government is pondering about extending compulsory education to grade 12 or 18 years of age, instead of grade 9. In the Portuguese high schools, one cannot pass onto the next year until he or she got the correct grades to pass, to fail in Portuguese is (chumbar) or (passar) to pass.

Republic of Korea (South Korea)Edit

Main article: Education in South Korea
In South Korea, students from grades 10 through 12 attend high schools. A student may choose, however, the class he or she wishes to take for liberal arts. High schools in South Korea may also have subject specialty tracks. For example, students who have a talent for science, foreign language, physical activity, art, etc.. may choose to go to an academic science or foreign language and other specialty high school (hangul:특수목적고등학교;Revised:Teuksu-mokjeok godeung hakgyo)

Most Korean students may choose to go to common high school (hangul:인문계 고등학교; Revised:Inmun-Gyae godeung hakgyo) ; and other students may choose a vocational track high school which emphasizes agriculture, commerce, or technical trade curricula (hangul:전문계 고등학교; Revised:'Jeonmun Gyae godeung hakgyo)

High schools are called 고등학교 (Revised: godeung hakgyo; McCune-Reischauer: kodŭng hakkyo).


Main article: Education in Taiwan

The secondary education in Taiwan includes junior high school, senior high school, vocational high school, military school and complete high school. The traditional secondary education institutions were established during the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945)." Today, they include many features from the United States.

After six years in elementary school, the rules typically state that children must enter junior high school, or their parents may be fined. There are three grades in junior high. Children who achieve the third grade can choose to enter senior high school, vocational high school or complete high school. If children want to continue their formal education, they must sit for an exam. Generally speaking, the grade to enter high school and complete high school is highest, while it is lower to go on to vocational high school and military school.

Senior high school has three grades. Graduates from senior high school often continue on to university. Vocational high school has three grades as well. Children who complete vocational high school can then enter a technological university. Complete high school is like that of American high schools, in that it has grades seven to grade twelve.

There are also international schools such as Taipei American School (TAS) and Taipei European School (TES). These schools offer grades from Kindergarten to grade 12. English is instructed for all courses. Since the curriculum concurs with the corresponding country's curriculum, graduates from these international schools generally do not stay in Taiwan for their undergraduate degree.

South AfricaEdit

Main article: Education in South Africa

In South Africa, high school begins at 8th Grade. Students study for five years, at the end of which they write what is known as "matric" The system used to be based on Higher or Standard grade. As of 2008; students must attain a pass in their Home Language, Additional Language,Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation to progress on to university. Officially the Senior Certificate to be changed to the National Senior Certificate in 2008 and the system of higher and standard grade has been dropped. An alternative examination is possible in the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) exams. They are set up by a board, representing many private schools.

Sweden and DenmarkEdit

In Sweden and Denmark it´s mandatory to be in school until 9th year of school education even though a majority of pupils between ages 15 to 19 usually go through the "Gymnasium", which can either be University-preparatory or give practical skills in a profession per se. Starting age for school education is now set at 6 years old.

United KingdomEdit

Main article: Education in the United Kingdom

The term "high school" is not used generically in the UK, although many secondary schools call themselves high schools, particularly in Scotland, the north of England and in some parts of Wales. Secondary schools in the state sector in the UK generally cater for children between the ages of 11 and 16 or 18.[3] In the private sector pupils often transfer to the final stage of education at age 13. The term high school is used specifically in some counties as follows:

  • In Leicestershire, the label "high school" applies to a small group of middle schools, which accept pupils between the ages of 10 and 14, before moving on to their final stage of secondary education.
  • In Liverpool and its surrounding area secondary schools are named high schools (eg Broadgreen High School)
  • Most secondary schools in Manchester are named high schools (see list of secondary schools in Manchester)
  • In Herefordshire, many state secondary schools name themselves high schools (eg Wigmore High School).
  • In Kent and other English counties which still retain their grammar schools, their non-selective comprehensive schools are often called high schools.
  • The Isle of Wight retains a three-tier schooling system. Its five state-run 'High Schools' are so named to differentiate them from secondary schools, which have a different age range.
  • In Northumberland there still exists a three tier education system comprising of First, Middle and High school. High Schools within Northumberland cater for pupils from Year 9 to Sixth Form (ages 13 to 18). There is currently a fairly high profile campaign within Northumberland to save the three tier system as it has been proposed to abolish it and adopt the standard Primary and Secondary school system as in the rest of England.

United StatesEdit

Main article: Secondary education in the United States

In the United States a high school is an upper secondary school which educates children from grade nine through grade twelve[4], in other words, from the age of about 14 to about 18. Prior to attending high school, many children in the United States attend a middle school, a junior high school or an intermediate school (usually grades 5-8, 6-8, 7-8, 7-9 or 8-9).[5][6]

Individual states, counties, and school districts have considerable leeway in how they choose to divide their school levels. Students will generally graduate from high school in the year of their 18th birthday if they were born between January 1 and August 31, but this varies by state depending on the kindergarten cut-off date, which ranges from August 1 in Missouri to January 1 in Connecticut.[7] A few American schools still incorporate grades 7 through 12, but it is usually either grades 9-12 or grades 10-12 although some states split grades 9-10 and 11-12 into a high school and senior high school. For purposes of the Grade Point Average (GPA) and subject requirements used for college admission, grade 9 is usually considered the first year of high school regardless of whether the student is in the last year of a 7-9 junior high program, or the first year of a 9-12 high school program. While high school is generally defined as being grades 9-12, there are some senior high schools that cover only grades 10-12, and typically accept students from a junior high school that includes grades 7-9. Some states consider grades 7-12 to be secondary education, while others consider grades 6-12 to be secondary education.

As a practical matter, while laws in most states mandate school attendance at least until graduation or age 16, many require attendance until age 17 or 18. (Enforcement of truancy laws is sometimes sporadic.) Conversely, students who have failed a grade may remain in high school past the age of 18. In general, students over 19 attend alternative classes to receive a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate. State laws vary on the cut-off age for students to receive free public education services. Many states have adult high schools for people generally 19 and over. Students can stay in high school past the age of 18 if it is deemed appropriate. They cannot stay past a certain age depending on the state. On average 71% of American students graduate from high school.[8][9][10][11] A high school diploma or GED certificate is usually required for entrance into a two or four-year college or university and to other post-secondary education programs.

High schools can usually be sub-classed as general high schools, vocational high schools (VoTech schools), and college preparatory high schools (prep schools) and Alternative high schools. Most high schools are general high schools. These schools offer a wide range of educational opportunities intended for the widest range of students possible. These general population schools offer college preparatory classes for advanced students, general education classes for average students and remedial courses for those who are struggling. Students can "mix and match" course levels according to their own abilities or interests.

In some school districts exceptionally high-performing students are offered enrollment at a district college preparatory high school. Traditionally "prep schools" in North America were usually private institutions, though most medium or large public (state) school districts now offer prep schools for advanced students. Public prep schools draw the top students from their district and have strict entrance requirements. All academic classes offered in these schools are classified as honors, International Baccalaureate, or Advanced Placement.

Vocational high schools offer hands-on training to students that prepares them for careers in fields such as information technology, marketing, business, engineering and the medical professions. While some graduates of vocational or career and technical education high schools will go directly into a trade, others will pursue postsecondary education. Vocational high schools are sometimes but not always associated with low-performing students (not necessarily special education students) or those at risk of dropping out of traditional schools, in order to offer these students the chance to earn their diploma and have marketable skills after graduation. The Association for Career and Technical Education is the largest national education association dedicated to career and technical education.

Alternative high schools are offered for students who have major disciplinary or mental health difficulties that make it problematic to educate them in traditional high school settings. Some alternative high schools are assigned as security risks, where the school houses students who are not yet old enough to legally leave school and are considered a danger to other students or teachers, but have not been convicted of a crime. Some alternative high schools are dedicated to students with drug or mental health difficulties and have medical and psychological staff on site. A few of these schools include a nursery and a child care staff so that teen parents can finish their education without having to find child care during the school day. Alternative high schools may have their own campus, but are often located in a section or wing of a general high school.

Alternative school can also refer to a school with a more flexible program of study or teaching methods.

Another recent form of high school that has emerged is the online high school. Stanford University's own Education Program for Gifted Youth recently received a generous donation and used it to create the first truly complete online high school, with an interactive and advanced program for advanced learners.

High School in the United States usually begins in late August or early September of each year, and ends in late May or early June. During the excess two and a half months, the students are given summer vacation to rest from the hectic school year.

  • 9th Grade - Freshman Year
  • 10th Grade - Sophomore Year
  • 11th Grade - Junior Year
  • 12th Grade - Senior Year

See alsoEdit


  2. The Global Competitiveness Report 2006–2007: Country Highlights. World Economic Forum. URL accessed on 2007-01-22.
  3. Dictionary definition of secondary school from the Longman Online Dictionary
  4. MSN Encarta Dictionary definition of high school
  5. Definition of junior high school accessed August 17, 2007
  6. Definition of intermediate school accessed August 17, 2007
  7. Kindergarten cut-off dates
  8. Government Education Dept. article on High school dropout rates
  9. Manhattan Institute article on High school dropout rates
  10. Manhattan Institute article on High school dropout rates / Value of GED certificate
  11. United Health Foundation article on High school dropout rates

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