For the year 2000, adult illiteracy rates were estimated at 14.8% (males, 6.4%; females, 23.3%). Primary, secondary, and much of higher education is free. Education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 14 or until graduation from primary school (grade five). However, owing to the inadequate number and distribution of schools and teachers, only about 56% of the children attend secondary school. Secondary schooling is for six years.
The regular school system consists of five-year primary schools, three-year junior high schools, and three-year high schools. Parallel to this system is a variety of technical, trade, and commercial schools. Among private schools in operation are a number of foreign schools and those maintained by ethnic or religious minorities. Among Turkey's 28 universities are the universities of Istanbul (founded 1453) and Ankara (founded 1946), the Technical University of Istanbul (founded 1773), and the Middle East Technical University at Ankara (founded 1957).
In 1997 there were 47,313 primary schools, with 6,389,060 students. Also in 1997, enrollment in all secondary-level schools was 4,760,892 students, with 218,829 teachers. As of 1995, an estimated 99% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 51% of those eligible attended secondary school. In the same year, public expenditure on education was estimated at2.3% of GDP. The universities and other public higher institutions had 1,434,033 students and 50,313 faculty members in 1997.