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Macau SAR, China


Região Administrativa Especial de Macau da República Popular da China (The Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China) is located on the western side of Pearl River Delta on the South China Sea and the border of Guangdong Province, 37 miles southwest of Hong Kong. The population is 456,989 making Macau one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The literacy rate is 91.3%, however for people aged 16 and under, the literacy rate is 99%. Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages, while English, Mandarin and Hokkien are also spoken.

The history of Macau can be traced back to 200 BC. In 1557, the Portuguese established a permanent settlement which became the first European settlement in the Far East. In 1887, the Qing government ceded Macau to Portugal, and Macau became a Portuguese colony making it the first (and last) European colony in Eastern Asia. In 1987, as a result of the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, Macau became a special administrative region of China. As a special administrative region, Macau has had a one country-, two systems-organization for 50 years that grants Macau autonomy in all matters except for defense and foreign affairs. On December 12, 1999, China established sovereignty over Macau.


There is no central coordination of primary and secondary schools in Macau. Schools are based on the Portuguese, Chinese, Hong Kong, and Taiwanese educational models. Public (official schools) follow the Portuguese model, while private schools follow the Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese models. Private schools, most of which are affiliated with the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, represent 88% of the primary and secondary schools in Macau. There is a standardized curriculum for public schools, but private schools are not obligated to follow it and set their own curriculums. 87% of schools teach in Chinese, 8% in English, and 4% in Portuguese.

Currently,all education in the country is overseen by the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau as well as the Higher Education Bureau.

Primary Education

Education is free and compulsory from ages 5 to 15. Primary school begins at age 6 and is 6 years long. Upon completion, students are awarded a Primary School Certificate.

Secondary Education

Lower secondary is 3 years and, upon completion, students are awarded a Junior Secondary Certificate. Following lower certificate, students continue on to general upper secondary or a technical / vocational upper secondary school. General upper secondary is 3 years and, upon completion, students are awarded Senior Secondary Certificate. Technical / vocational upper secondary school is 2 - 3 years long, depending on the student's program of study. Upon completion, students are awarded a Senior Secondary Certificate.

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education is offered at universities, polytechnics, and higher education institutions, although students have the option of taking the Joint Entrance Examination for admission to universities in mainland China. Hong Kong, Great Britain, and Taiwan are also popular post-secondary study destinations.

First Cycle

One-year certificate and 2-year diploma programs are offered at higher education institutions. Universities and polytechnics offer 3-year Higher Diploma programs, 3-year bacharelato programs, and 4 - 5 year licenciatura and bachelor programs. Admission to post-secondary programs requires a Senior Secondary Certificate based on 12 years of education or its equivalent.

Second and Third Cycles

Postgraduate programs are 2 years and students are awarded a mestrado. Admission requires a bachelors or licenciatura. Doctoral programs are at least 3 years long and, upon successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Doutoramento.

Students who wish to study Western medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine must enroll in a program outside of Macau, usually in mainland China or Hong Kong. However, programs in Chinese medicine are offered at several institutions in Macau.

Teacher Training

Pre-primary and primary school teachers are prepared in 2-year Diploma of Education programs. Admission to these programs requires a Junior Secondary Certificate. Secondary school teachers must hold a bachelor's degree.



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