IN 2003/2004, 81,470 foreign pupils studied in Portuguese junior and secondary schools. With the rise of immigrants in Portugal, the education system saw the number of foreign students grow by 15.7 per cent in the space of four school years, according to recent data from the Gabinete de Informação e Avaliação do Sistema Educativo (GIASE), the office of information and evaluation of the education system.
However, during that period, fewer pupils came from eastern European cities such as the Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Russia, even though pupils from these areas represented seven per cent of the total of foreign students. Another group of foreigners coming into Portugal were Brazilians – according to data from the GIASE, a significant 90 per cent studied in Portugal between 2001 and 2004.
“The presence of these pupils in Portuguese schools is not new,” Maria João Valente Rosa, director of GIASE, said. “We must look at it as something positive.”
Despite the rise of foreign students in Portugal, their presence barely represents five per cent of the total of matriculations.
Rosa admitted that if there had not been this increase, the education system would still be suffering from the effects of national taxes. “Between 2001 and 2004, there was a decrease of four per cent in the number of students attending junior and secondary school. If there had been no foreigners, the decrease would have been eight per cent.”