The primary and secondary schools system consists of primary schools, primary schools with kindergarten, apprenticeship training institutes, secondary vocational institutes, secondary high schools, secondary vocational schools and special schools. They may be state, private or church schools but they all provide education of equal standard.
Kindergarten (for children 3–6 years of age) teaches basic knowledge and skills, develops communication skills, thinking and interests and prepares children in general for primary school. Compulsory schooling normally starts at the beginning of the school year in which a child turns 6 and lasts nine years. Primary schools prepare children for further education and for work. Normally these schools have 9 grades and are divided into Level 1 (junior: 1st-4th grade) and Level 2 (middle: 5th-9th grade) schools.
Secondary schools, which provide secondary vocational training, full secondary education, full secondary vocational training and higher vocational training and education, prepare students for professional occupations and for university study. Secondary vocational training comprises further general education and vocational training and ends with a final examination. Full secondary education or full secondary vocational training comprises extended higher-level general education and further advanced vocational training; full secondary education is completed by taking the Leaving Certificate examination at secondary high schools and full secondary vocational training is completed by taking the Leaving Certificate examination at secondary vocational institutes or vocational schools.
Higher vocational training and education comprises further general education and advanced specialist vocational training in technical, educational, artistic and other disciplines and is completed by taking a final examination. Secondary schools also organise post-secondary and post-Leaving Certificate courses which provide additional general education and occupational and vocational training to obtain higher professional qualifications.
Universities in Slovakia prepare qualified professionals with tertiary education in technical, scientific, economic, social and artistic disciplines. At present there are 20 public, 10 private and 3 state universities and colleges in Slovakia. Study programmes are organised on three levels and studies are completed by presenting and defending a thesis or dissertation and taking the State Examination.
The first level of study for a Bachelor degree takes 3-4 years, the second level is a Master of Arts, Science, Engineering or Medical Doctor degree which takes 4–6 years (this includes the Bachelor degree) and the third level is the Doctoral degree which takes a further 3–4 years.