Primary education is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16 and is free in public schools. Maltese law requires that the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church be included in the public school curriculum, and legislation passed in 1983 requires all schools to provide free education.
In 1997, there were 35,374 pupils enrolled in primary schools. In the same year, secondary school students numbered 34,211, with approximately 3,200 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 20 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, virtually 100% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 79% of those eligible attended secondary school. All higher-level institutions and universities had 709 teaching staff and 8,260 pupils in 1997. For the year 2000, adult illiteracy was estimated at 7.9% (males, 8.6%; females, 7.2%). As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.8% of GDP.
Institutes of higher education include the University of Malta, the International Maritime Law Institute, and the School of Art.