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Denmark - Education and Schools

Education in Denmark is compulsory for children below the age of 16. It is important to know that attending Folkeskole is not compulsory. Folkeskole is the public school for children below the age of 16. About 82% of students choose to take further education after finishing this school. Government-funded education is mostly free of charge and open to all students. Denmark has a long tradition of private schools, so around 15.6% of children at basic school level go to private schools. These schools are supported by a voucher system. Based on the data from 2006, the Education Index which was published with the UN's Human Development Index is 0.993 in Denmark. That puts this country amongst the highest in the world, tied for first with Finland, New Zealand and Australia. Literacy in Denmark is approximately 99% for both sexes.

Education can be seen as a key priority in Denmark. The Danish public schooling and education system is financed by taxes, so it is free of charge. There are also many private schools, including international schools with partial parental payment.

Primary and lower secondary education (age 6 to 16)

Primary and lower secondary education in Denmark is generally free of charge. Five out of every six children go to a public school, or folkeskole, and one in six chooses a private school. There are more than 24 international schools in the country, which are primarily chosen by foreign parents, and people who live in Denmark for a shorter period of time. Primary and lower secondary education is the responsibility of the municipalities. Those who have already chosen a place to live should contact the municipality find out information about the appropriate school for their children.

Upper secondary education (age 16 to 19)

In this country the upper secondary education is also free of charge and offers two types of programmes:

General education – this enables the students to qualify for access to higher education.
Vocational education – technical education that enables the students to qualify primarily for access to the labor market.

There are numerous study programmes that are offered in English or some other foreign languages. Denmark has 15 international upper secondary schools, which generally offer the International Baccalaureate, IB.

Higher education

Danish universities and other institutions of higher education have a wide range of study programmes to choose from. In this country, about 40 % of all students complete a higher education study programme. More than 50 different educational institutions offer study programmes of varying durations and levels. Higher education is mostly free of charge for Danish residents. If certain conditions are met, students can also receive study grants and loans to finance their living costs during the studies.


Very young children in Denmark always have the option of enrolling in various child care centers. There is a huge variety of child care options for children below the age of 6. Each municipality has different overall goals and framework of child care options.

Day care is an option where a group of children between the ages of 6 months and 2-3 years are taken care of by a childminder at their own home. There can be up to 4 children apart from the child minder’s own. If two childminders decide to work together, they can take care of up to 10 children.

Day nursery is another childcare option for children between 6 months and 2-3 years. The number of children may differ, but the average number is 4 children per one childcare employee. Most nurseries are equipped with toys for each age group. Nurseries usually include outdoor spaces such as playgrounds with swings, sandpits, and so on. In these institutions children are usually taken on excursions as well.

Kindergarten in Denmark is for children between the age of 3 and 7. Institutions may vary in size, but the average number is 6 children per one kindergarten teacher. They also offer a wide variety of toys for the children, and have an outdoor area with a playground as well. Sometimes they even offer bicycles and carts.

Some municipal authorities award a grant to parents so their children can be put in private day care centers.

The price of childcare is determined by the municipal board individually. It's good to know that, according to state law, parents must not be charged more than 25 to 28% of the cost of the child's care in the institution. There are also some institutions that offer meals, and others that don’t, so this can affect the cost as well.

Young children are known for their quick adaptability and fast language-learning. Bilingual kids also have an advantage in school, on standardized tests, in college admissions and their careers in general. "Berlitz Kids + Teens" is the main institution in Denmark that tries to make children learn a language while having fun. All language instructors on the Berlitz Kids + Teens programs are native speakers. They all have experience working with children as well.

Danish schooling

The Kingdom of Denmark has a policy of nine years' compulsory education. Children start with education from the age of seven. However, most of the children start in a pre-school class at the age of six. After spending nine years in primary and lower secondary school, the choice of what comes next is individual. Students decide on their own if they want to pursue higher education.

Primary and Lower Secondary School

In Denmark, all children are entitled to free tuition at municipal primary and lower secondary school. The free tuition includes a one-year pre-school class followed by nine years of further education and a tenth class which is optional.

Upper Secondary School

Following primary school, which is usually completed by the age of 16 or 17, the majority of Danish students continue with some form of upper secondary education. Upper secondary education consists of general and vocational programmes for students from 16 to 20 years old. Some study programmes are offered in foreign languages as well. This school provides an entry into higher education programmes.

International schooling

In this country students may find several International Schools, and schools which offer an English-language IB programme. For information on enrollment costs and supported age groups, students should consult the individual school websites or simply contact the school administration.

Private and Boarding schools

Denmark is known for its 200 year old tradition of private schools. The private schools have a higher degree of freedom relating to the way in which the schooling is organized, compared to public schools. There are six main boarding schools: Sorø Akademi, Herlufsholm Skole, Nyborg Gymnasium, Struer Gymnasium, Grenå Gymnasium, and Viborg Gymnasium.

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