For the year 2000, adult illiteracy was estimated at 2.8% (males,1.4%; females, 4.0%). Education is free and compulsory for nine years beginning at age six, and primary education lasts for six years. Secondary education is comprised of two steps: first three years, followed by an additional three years of college preparation. The central and local governments pay the cost of state schools, and private schools are state-regulated. In 1997 there were 6,651 primary schools with 652,040 pupils and 46,758 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 14 to 1. In the same year, secondary schools had 817,566 pupils and 70,682 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 13 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, 97% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 86% of those eligible attended secondary school. Greece's six major universities—Athens, Salonika, Thrace, Ioánnina, Crete, and Pátrai—together with the National Technical University of Athens, the new University of the Aegean, and the Technical University of Crete, plus seven special institutions of higher education, enrolled 363,150 students in 1997; teaching staff totaled 16,057. Private universities are constitutionally banned. As of 1995, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.9% of GDP.
In July 1982, the Socialist government initiated a program to democratize the higher-education system; a law was approved that diminished the power of individual professors by establishing American-style departments with integrated faculties. Junior faculty members and representatives of the student body were granted a role in academic decision-making. The legislation also curbed university autonomy by establishing the National University Council to advise the government on higher-education planning, and the Academy of Letters and Sciences to set and implement university standards.