The School System
The standard compulsory period of education is ten years. The general rule is that children will begin primary school education (“grunnskóli”) at the age of six, and compulsory education usually ends at sixteen.
Since 1996, rural communities have carried the main responsibility for primary education, but before then the responsibility lay with the State. Standardized examinations are held in set subject areas in all the nation’s primary schools in grades 4, 7, and 9/10, with the Ministry of Education having the duty to ensure that they take place. A special institute overlooks the management of the standard examinations, their composition, marking, and processing.
At the end of primary school, the vast majority of students begin studies at high school level (“framhaldsskóli”). The are a number of subjects from which to chose, both academic and vocational. All those who finish primary school have the right to begin high school. Those who have not finished primary school education, or have for some reason not completed the standard exams, have the choice of commencing studies in special school or enrolling in a non-specific course of study at high school. About 70% Icelanders aged 25-64 have the equivalent of a high school degree which is quite low in comparison with other OECD countries.
At the close of high school education, students may continue with further studies or seek employment in the labour market.