Country information for Portugal - Financing of inclusive education systems

In Portugal, the responsibility for the design, management and financing of public education has historically been linked primarily to the Ministry of Education, with an appropriate allocation in the state budget. In recent years, this responsibility has been progressively decentralised and the responsibility shared. Schools have more autonomy and municipalities are more involved. Municipalities are financed by the Ministry of Finance and by their own revenues, generated by local taxes (Source: FPIES – Portugal Country Report, p. 30).

The global budget for education covers all learners. A bigger investment is required to provide public pre-primary education to all children, as well as early childhood intervention. Early intervention is of utmost importance to minimise the impact of disabilities, but stronger co-ordination efforts are required.

The National Early Childhood Intervention System (NECIS) is the responsibility of three ministries (Education, Health and Social Security). There are representatives from each ministry in each of the NECIS structures (at regional and national level). The local intervention teams include educators from the Ministry of Education, medical doctors, nurses and therapists from the Ministry of Health and therapists and psychologists from the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security. The NECIS services are free of charge (Sources: Financing of Inclusive Education – Portugal Country Report; IECE – Portugal Country Survey Questionnaire, p. 15).

Financial support for pupils’ families

The criteria for financial support for pupils with specific needs, which indirectly benefits their families, ensure attendance at and completion of compulsory education.

The allocation of funds for the acquisition and/or maintenance of necessary technical assistance to ensure access to the curriculum is also considered.

Specific legislation establishes the maximum amounts and the regulations of the monthly payments by co-operatives and education and special teaching associations. This also applies to for-profit education and special teaching establishments overseen by the Ministry of Education, whose fees are reviewed annually (Ordinance No. 171/07 and Ordinance No. 172/07, 6 February). Special education subsidies from social security are the financial contribution to special education that families make for children and young people. They are also established annually via specific legislation.

The system of funding is not tied to categories/types of disability. The Ministry of Education ensures the allocation of human resources (specialist teachers and other professionals) to mainstream schools. For specialised settings in mainstream schools, the Ministry of Education also assigns a monthly allowance for operating funds. Spending on specialist teachers to support the implementation of inclusive education came to EUR 200 million in 2016. It was EUR 7 million for school-level specialised technicians, while over EUR 450,000 a year was used to operate 25 Information and Communication Technology Resource Centres.

The Ministry of Education also allocates funds to support the partnerships between Resource Centres for Inclusion and mainstream schools. Resource Centres for Inclusion oversee activities for an annual amount of over EUR 10 million (Source: FPIES – Country Report: Portugal, p. 19; Financing of Inclusive Education, p. 36).

Financial support for private special education establishments

In 1993, criteria were established for financial support for private special education establishments that were supplementary in nature and in line with the principles of school integration. The following year, the family allowances of children and young people with disabilities attending special education establishments were stipulated.

The principle of free education was extended to private special education establishments in 1995. This determined the type of funding given by the Ministry of Education and the techno-pedagogical measures used for pupils with special educational needs who attend such establishments. The consolidation of the principles and the updating of options and measures in this field were regulated in 1997, with the amount of financial support for pupils and their families reviewed annually.

Ordinance No. 1102/97, 3 November, establishes the access conditions for pupils in special education, the requirements in order for those institutions to function and the funding given by the Ministry of Education.


Last updated 07/04/2020

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