Education has been compulsory since 1911. For the year 2000, adult illiteracy was estimated at 7.8% (males, 5.2%; females, 10.0%). Primary level education, which lasts for six years, is compulsory. Secondary level education is in two stages of three years. In 1996, primary schools enrolled 867,253 pupils. At the secondary level during 1996, there were 947,478 pupils. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 13 to 1 in 1999.
Coimbra University, founded in 1290, is Portugal's oldest institution of higher learning, and the universities of Lisbon and Porto are two of the largest. In 1996, total enrollment in institutions of higher learning was 319,525. There are also art schools, music schools, and a school of tropical medicine. Approximately 11.7% of the annual government budget was spent on education in the latter part of the 1990s. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.7% of GDP.