Póvoa de Varzim's educational offer is covered by a network of public and private schools, through a sharing of skills in different partnership schemes, in a balanced response to the distribution of the population throughout the territory. There are a total of 54 facilities that serve a universe of 11,144 students, with regard to non-higher education (National Institute of Statistics, 2016/17).

Pre-school, basic and secondary education

Schools of the public sector dominate the pre-school, basic (1st to 9th grades) and secondary (10th to 12th grades) levels. This sector is organised into five school groups, distributed throughout the municipality. Secondary education is located in the city centre: the Eça de Queirós Secondary School, created in 1904 and which maintains a humanist vocation, and the Rocha Peixoto Secondary School, a former industrial and commercial school created in 1924. The Eça de Queirós Secondary School, which attracts the neighbouring population in very large numbers, stands out in the national rankings of public secondary schools. In 2018, it achieved 3rd place in Portugal and 2nd place in the North Portugal Region.

The city also has private schools, many of which are run by religious orders. Of particular note is the Sagrado Coração de Jesus College, where Agustina Bessa-Luís studied, and the work of reference developed by MAPADI, an institution specialised in working with children with special educational needs.

The basic and secondary schools provide additional vocational subjects, such as the promotion of a school newspaper, magazine and radio, choral groups, writing, theatre, cinema and the European Club. Students join international projects such as School Libraries Across Europe, World Read Aloud Day, Book It 18, some of which are recognised with the eTwinning School Label Award.

Higher Education

In terms of higher education, Póvoa de Varzim primarily makes use of the offer available in the Metropolitan Area of Porto, which has a total of 62 establishments (National Institute of Statistics 2016/17). Educational institutions based in Porto often decentralise units throughout the metropolitan territory. This is the case of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, that offers a degree in Documentation and Information Sciences and Technology, which trains skills in the area of documentation, treatment of archives and collections, online repositories and librarianship.

Lifelong learning and professional training

The municipality offers a range of lifelong learning opportunities, including adults obtaining school certification equivalent to basic and secondary education and access to more than 40 subjects taught by the Senior Citizens' University. In addition, it provides training and professional certification through Technological Specialisation courses, Technological Courses and Professional Courses.

Education Challenges

Póvoa de Varzim's educational and training offer as a whole broadens the range of path choices for young people and adults, allowing them to improve their levels of education and professional qualification. Some challenges persist, despite the quality and diversity of the educational infrastructures and facilities. These challenges concern the still unsatisfactory levels of qualification of the population, associated with the high school dropout rates.

In general, Póvoa de Varzim presents development indicators close to the national levels. In Póvoa de Varzim, there was a decrease in illiteracy rates in 1991 (7%) and in 2001 (5%). The school dropout rate also showed a positive evolution, as it went from 3.9% to 1.3% between 2001 and 2011. Although this rate in Póvoa de Varzim was better than both the national average (which was 1.7%) and that of Greater Porto (which was 1.6%) in 2011, it is still a source of concern and a target for political action, since there are many pupils who leave school before completing basic education. The dropout rate in secondary education (11.5% in the 2004/2005 school year) is also high, resulting in a significant number of students, aged over 16 years, entering the workforce with low formal qualifications.

Thus, some national priority challenges continue to persist, namely with regard to the still unsatisfactory levels of qualification of the population, particularly young people, leading to poorer long-term results in qualification and job stability.

The low level of qualifications is directly reflected in the working population of the municipality: although it has good rejuvenation rates, the social-professional structure is based on a philosophy of low qualifications and still insufficient middle and senior management staff in the working population. The specific situation of employability of the female population is also diagnosed which, with a slightly greater share than men (53% of the population), has significant unemployment rates.
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