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Primary education or elementary education often in primary school or elementary school is typically the first stage of compulsory education, coming between early childhood education and secondary education.
In most countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education although it is permissible for parents to provide it. The major goals of primary education are achieving basic literacy and numeracy among all pupils, as well as establishing foundations in science, mathematics, geography, history and other social sciences. Basic sexual education is also received by pupils attending primary school. The relative priority of various areas, and the methods used to teach them, are an area of considerable political debate.
Typically, primary education is provided in schools, where the child will stay in steadily advancing classes until they complete it and move on to high school/secondary school. Children are usually placed in classes with one teacher who will be primarily responsible for their education and welfare for that year. This teacher may be assisted to varying degrees by specialist teachers in certain subject areas, often music or physical education. The continuity with a single teacher and the opportunity to build up a close relationship with the class is a notable feature of the primary education system.
Traditionally, various forms of corporal punishment have been an integral part of early education. This practice has recently come under scrutiny and in many cases has been outlawed, especially in Western countries.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goal 2 is to achieve universal primary education by the year 2015, by which time they aim to ensure that all children everywhere regardless of race or gender, will be able to complete primary schooling.
Due to the fact that the United Nations is specifically focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, as they are both home to the vast majority of children out of school, they hypothesize that they might not be able to reach their goal by 2015. According to the September 2010 fact sheet, this is because there are still about 69 million school-age children are not in school and almost half of them are in sub-Saharan Africa and more than a quarter are in Southern Asia. 
In order to achieve the goal by 2015, the United Nations estimates that all children at the official entry age for primary school would have had to be attending classes by 2009. This would depend on the duration of the primary level as well as how well the school schools retain students until the end of the cycle. In half of the sub-Saharan African countries, however, "at least one in four children of primary-school age were out of school in 2008."
Also, not only is it important for children to be enrolled but countries will need to ensure that there are a sufficient amount of teachers and classrooms to meet the demand. As of 2010 and 2015, the number of new teachers needed in sub-Saharan Africa alone equals the current teaching force in the region.
The gender gap in the number of students not in school has also narrowed. Between 1999 and 2008, the number of girls not in school decreased from 57 percent to 53 percent globally. In some regions, however, there is a greater percentage; for example, in Northern Africa, 66 percent of "out-of-school children" are girls. 
According to the United Nations, there are many things in the regions that have been accomplished. Although enrollment in the sub-Saharan area of Africa continues to be the lowest of all regions, by 2010 "it still increased by 18 percentage points—from 58 per cent to 76 per cent—between 1999 and 2008." There was also progress in both Southern Asia and Northern Africa, where both countries witnessed an increase in enrollment. Southern Asia increased by 11 percentage points and Northern Africa by 8 percentage points over the last decade.
Also, major advances have been made even in some of the poorest countries, again the majority of them in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. With the abolition of primary school fees in Burundi, there was an increase in primary-school enrollment since 1999; it reached 99 percent in 2008. The United Republic of Tanzania experienced a similar outcome. The country doubled its enrollment ratio over the same period. Other regions in Latin America such as Guatemala and Nicaragua as well as Zambia in Southern Africa "broke through the 90 percent towards greater access to primary education." 
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In Australia, students undertake preschool then 13 years of schooling before moving to vocational or higher education. Primary schooling for most children starts after they turn 5 years old. In most states, children can be enrolled earlier at the discretion of individual school principals on the basis of intellectual giftedness. In Victoria, New South Wales, Northern Territory, ACT and Tasmania students then move through Kindergarten/Preparatory School/Reception and Years 1 to 6 before starting high school. In Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia students do Year 7 while still enrolled at primary school, although most governmental primary schools are moving to a K to 6 structure to line up with the other states in order to ensure that Year 7 students are able to undertake laboratory practical components of the national syllabus.
Brazil has recently gone through changes in school grades. Currently, at the age of 6 children attend from the grade 1 to 4 what is called Ensino Primário (Portuguese for Primary Teaching, or Primary School), and afterwards from grade 5 to 9 the Ensino Fundamental (Fundamental Teaching/School). At the age of 15 the teenagers go to Ensino Médio (Mid Teaching/School), which is equivalent High School in other countries, but it is only 3 years long (grades 10 to 12) and can either be a regular or technical course.
Primary school is mandatory and consistis in nine years called Ensino Fundamental, separated in Ensino Fundamental I(1st to 5th grades) and Ensino Fundamental II(6th to 9th grades).
Primary school is followed by the optional three years called Ensino Médio (former Científico, Liceu or Ginásio).
In Canada, primary school (also known as elementary school) usually begins at the ages of four through six, starting with either Kindergarten or Grade 1 and lasts until age 13 or 14.
In Nova Scotia "elementary school" is the most common term. The provincial government of Nova Scotia uses the term "Primary" instead of Kindergarten.
* students in the Prairie Provinces are not required by statute to attend pre-kindergarten or kindergarten ** Quebec only goes up to grade 11 then students are required to go to CÉGEP before University
In Denmark, 9 years of primary school (Folkeskole) are compulsory.
Kindergarten (optional): 5–6 years
10th grade (optional): 15–18 years
In Estonia, 9 years of primary school (Põhikool or "basic school") are compulsory. The first three grades of primary school are called Algkool which can be translated as "beginning school" and can be confused with primary school. In some low density population areas Algkool is the only school available and students enter primary school in bigger towns.
9 years of primary school (Peruskoulu) are compulsory.
In France, primary schools provide education from the age of 6 to 10. The students start in CP (cours préparatoire) then past in CE1, CE2 (cours élémentaires), CM1 and finally CM2 (cours moyens). Before 1941 primary schools had upper sections called ecoles primaires supérieures, which spanned on four years and enabled students to enter normal schools or clerking professions; such sections were turned into Lycées but cours complementaires remained until 1959, when such courses were turned into collèges d'enseignement généraux.
Education is mandatory from 6 years old to 16 years old. Free public and free private education is offered from 3 years old (sometimes 2 years old). Home education is allowed. Occasionally classes are of a double level to make up the number of pupil per class, usually to 29.
Collège and Lycée are usually separate establishments, with large communes having a collège, while the Lycée are usually in the larger towns and cities.
Depending on the federal state, primary schools provide education from Class 1 to Class 4 or from Class 1 to Class 6. After primary school students may attend a Hauptschule, Mittelschule, Regionale Schule or a Realschule, which are more vocationally orientated, a Gymnasium, which is more academically oriented, or a Gesamtschule, which is comparable to a Comprehensive School.
The first school for German children is called Grundschule. It takes usually four years, the pupils are between six and ten years old. The education consists of learning to read, write, basic math and general knowledge. In some schools, a first foreign language is introduced, usually English. In the final year of primary school, children receive a recommendation as to which further school they can attend.
Depending on the recommendation they received from their teacher, children proceed to their mandatory secondary education in either Hauptschule (Grades 5-9, sometimes 10th grade is added which is then called "Werkrealschule"), Realschule (Grades 5-10), or Gymnasium (Grades 5-12). Upon the successful completion of Grades 11 and 12 in the Gymnasium, students receive the Abitur, a diploma with the permission to enter post-secondary education (similar to the A-level or High School Diploma). The Abitur will not be received at the end of Haupt- and Realschule, but graduating students are eligible to enter the 11th Grade of the Gymnasium if they wish to obtain the Abitur.
In Hong Kong, students attend primary schools for the first six years of compulsory education.
Primary School education for children in Hungary takes 8 years.
In Iceland, 10 years of primary school (Grunnskóli) are compulsory.
Primary school teaching in Iceland consists of 10 grade levels. These are:
The Indonesian term for elementary school is sekolah dasar.
In India, elementary schools provide education from Class 1 to Class 8. The children in these classes are generally aged between 6 to 14 years. It is the next stage after kindergarten (Pre-Nursery, Nursery, Prep or Lower Kindergarten and Upper Kindergarten). The next stage after primary education is Middle School (Class 6th to 8th). In most schools in North India, children in Classes 1st to 3rd are taught English, Hindi, Mathematics, Environmental Science, and General Knowledge. In class 4th and 5th the environmental science subject is replaced by General Science and Social Studies. However some schools may introduce this concept in Class 3 itself. Some schools may also introduce a third language in Class 5th or even in Class 4th. Sanskrit and local state language are the most common third languages taught in Indian schools. At some places, primary education is labeled as the education of Class 3rd to Class 5th and up to class 2nd as pre-primary education. This is because many new concepts are introduced in this class. Children are taught painting instead of drawing and colouring, exams are taken, and Word Sum Puzzle in maths are introduced along with geometry.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is the apex body for school education in India. The NCERT provides support and technical assistance to a number of schools in India and oversees many aspects of enforcement of education policies. In India, the various bodies governing school education system are:
Primary/secondary education in India is segregated as Primary (1st standard to 7th standard), Lower Secondary (8th standard to 10th standard), and Higher Secondary (11th and 12th standard).
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Primary school teaching in Ireland consists of 8 class levels. These are:
Junior and Senior infants correspond to Kindergarten.
The subjects mainly taught in primary school are:
Secondary school teaching in Ireland consists of 5 class levels. These are:
The content of the Religion course taught depends on the management of the school. Many schools are managed and owned by the Roman Catholic Church, with a lesser number belonging to the Church of Ireland and to the Multi Denominational Group Educate Together and a handful run by other religions such as Muslims. Each school body decides on the emphasis of its religious instruction. In Catholic schools 2nd and 6th class prepare children for Holy Communion and Confirmation respectively. In the Church of Ireland this preparation is done when the pupil is aged about 14 years, and is in secondary school.
Children may start at primary school at any age between four and six years of age. Most children finish primary school at or around twelve years of age.
Primary school teaching in Italy consists of 5 grades. Before the First Grade, there is the kindergarten (scuola dell'infanzia in Italian), which is not compulsory.
Schools used to have a six day school week, Monday to Saturday. Lately, as of 2008, most elementary and middle schools have reduced the school week to five days, with high schools remaining with six.
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Daycare(optional):4 months-1.5 years Preschool:2 yr.-6 yr.(optional for 2 yr.) Kindergarten or Pre-1A:5-7 Class 1:6-7 Class 2:7-8 Class 3:8-9 Class 4:9-10 Class 5:10-11 Class 6:11-12 Some schools include Classes 7&8 as Elementary School, some include them as High School. Class 7:12-13 Class 8:13-14 Class 9:14-15 Class 10:15-16 Class 11:16-17 Class 12:17-18
Kindergartens nursery schools are private institutions and attendance is not mandatory.
English has become a compulsory subject at primary schools in Japan, since April 2011 in order to compete with other Asian countries in English proficiency; Japanese students have among the lowest English TOEFL scores in Asia. 
In Malaysia, the first six years of compulsory formalised education take place in primary schools, and starts at the age of seven.
Primary education is compulsory in Malaysia. Children spend 6 years in primary schools. In 6th year, students sit for a national standardized test known as the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR, Primary School Achievement Test).
After completing Standard 6, students will go on to secondary schools.
Next, the students will be moving on into universities or college
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Children in the Netherlands must be at least four years old to enter primary education. Almost all 4-year-olds (99.3%) in the Netherlands indeed attend primary school, although this is not compulsory until children reach the age of 5. Primary school is free of charge. In most schools, children are grouped by age in mixed ability classes, with one teacher for all subjects. Primary school consists of 8 groups (thus 8 years of schooling). During the first two years (both kindergarten), children receive an average of 22 hours of education, during the last 6 years children receive an average of 25 hours per week. Schools are open 5 days a week, but all children have a half day on Wednesdays (ending at noon). At the end of primary school, in group 8, schools advice on secondary school choice. Most schools use a national test to support this advice, for instance the 'Citotoets', a test developed by the Central Institute for Test development.
In Pakistan, children aged between 4–6 years begin attending primary school.
In the Philippines, the Department of Education mandates that elementary school lasts for 6 years in the public school system starting with grade 1 and culminating with grade 6. After successful completion of the 6-year programme shall a student graduate, be awarded an elementary diploma and can move-on to a 4-year high school programme (most private schools will require an entrance examination). However most private schools (which usually call the elementary level as "grade school"), especially exclusive schools and those accredited to have a high degree of autonomy from the Department of Education usually extend their programmes to 7th grade and can also include levels such as nursery, kindergarten or preparatory (prep) as entry levels prior to 1st grade. Subjects usually taken-up include Communication Arts in English (some private schools break this down into Language and Reading) and Filipino, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies (taught in Filipino), Home Economics (HELE - for all-girls schools), Music, Art, and Physical Education (which in some schools is collectively known as MAPE). Students in the 6th grade, whether studying in a public or private school are required to undergo a National (Elementary) Achievement Test (NAT) even if grade 6 isn't the terminal level in that school. The NAT is similar to certain schemes like Primary School Leaving Examination of Singapore (PSLE) except that that NAT score isn't used as a basis to admit students to a high school. Grade 1 and Grade 6 are affected with the K-12 education.
Higher education: 18 and over Children may end their schooling after passing secondary school if desired.
In Portugal, the primary education (ensino primário) is known as the 1st cycle of the basic education (1º ciclo do ensino básico). It includes the first four years of compulsory education (1ª classe, 2ª classe, 3ª classe and 4ª classe), their pupils being children between six and ten years old. After the education reform of 1986, the former primary education became part of the basic education (educação básica).
Basic education now includes:
The Saudi Arabian term for elementary school is المدرسة الابتدائية, consisting of students from ages 6 to 12.
The medium of instruction is English. After completing kindergarten, or pre-school years, children will then have to go through 6 years compulsory of primary education, from ages 7 to 12. At the end of primary education, students are required to take a standardised national exam, the Primary School Leaving Examination(also known as PSLE). Based on PSLE results, students apply and are sorted into secondary schools for a 4 or 5 year course.
Primary education in Singapore, normally starting at age seven, is a four-year foundation stage (Primary 1 to 4) and a two-year orientation stage (Primary 5 to 6). Primary education is compulsory and fees are low at public schools, there are also other fees per student to help cover miscellaneous costs.
During the foundation stage, all students are taught English Language as a first language, a mother tongue as a second language and Mathematics. Science is introduced from Primary 3 onwards. In addition to these examinable subjects, lessons in Civics and Moral Education, arts and crafts, music, health education, social studies and physical education are conducted at various levels. Students are also introduced to project work, receive pastoral care and career guidance, and are to participate in Co-Curricular Activities and Community Involvement Programmes. In the orientation stage, weaker students are banded based on their abilities in the four examinable subjects. Known as "Subject-based Banding", they take individual subjects either at the standard or foundation level. Conversely, higher mother tongue is offered for higher ability students.
In Somalia, pupils start primary school when they are 7 and finish it at the age of 11 starting from form 1 to form 4. Pupils must firstly have attended casual school known as dugsi and learnt the Muslim holy book Qur'an, and the meaning of the Arabic language. Pupils who had not done this are not permitted to start primary school as they will be examined before starting. Pupils' age may sometimes vary seeing that some pupils achieve higher than their predicted grade and may skip the year while some require to repeat the year if they had not achieved the grade required from them. After finishing primary, students move to intermediate school.
In South Korea, students attend elementary school from kindergarten to the 6th grade. Students study a wide range of subjects, including: Korean, English, Chinese characters, math, social studies, science, computers, art, physical education, music, health, ethics, and home economics. English instruction generally begins in the 3rd grade. After finishing elementary school, students attend middle school (middle school 1st–3rd grade). The Korean term for elementary school is chodeung hakgyo (Hangul: 초등학교).
Almost all children attend a preparatory year at the age of 6. This initial year is not mandatory. Children then kids go to the primary school (grundskola) through the ages of 7 and 15. After that they can choose to (although it is very uncommon not to) study at a gymnasium for three years where they pick a program devoted to a particular direction (i.e. Science, Aesthetics, Civics). During the gymnasium all students have some subjects they have to study, but not during all three years.
The children don't start receiving grades until their eighth year. This is, however, about to change according to a new proposal from the Swedish government, where grades will be given from the sixth year.
Gymnasieskola is not compulsory but most common. What you wish to read is your choice, if you have the right grades for your wanted education. If there are more people who wish to read than spots, the ones with the highest grades are accepted. This is either a preparation for University or for work.
During the year before children start compulsory school, all children are offered a place in a pre-school class (förskoleklass), which combines the pedagogical methods of the pre-school with those of compulsory school. Between ages 7 and 15, children attend compulsory comprehensive school (grundskola), divided in three stages. The vast majority of schools in Sweden are municipally run, but there are also independent schools. The education in independent schools has many objectives in common with the municipal school, but it can have an orientation that differs from that of the municipal schools.
9 years of primary school are compulsory.
Kindergarten (optional): 5–6 years
In Tunisia pre-school education (3–6 years) is optional and provided primarily in three settings:
Kindergartens:socio-educational institutions that come under the supervision of Ministry of culture.
Kouttabs:religious institutions also cater for children between 3 and 5 years of age. Their task is to initiate them into learning the Quran as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic. They are under the supervision of the Ministry of Religious Affairs
Preparatory year: It is also an integral part of basic education but it is not compulsory. It is supervised by the Ministry of Education and is provided in public, private and quasi-public primary schools
9 years of basic education are compulsory.
Kindergarten (optional): 5–6 years 1st grade: 6–7 years 2nd grade: 7–8 years 3rd grade: 8–9 years 4th grade: 9–10 years 5th grade: 10–11 years 6th grade: 11–12 years 7th grade: 12–13 years 8th grade: 13–14 years 9th grade: 14–15 years
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Elementary schools in England and Wales were publicly funded schools which provided a basic standard of education for children aged from six to 14 between 1870 and 1944. These were set up to enable children to receive manual training and elementary instruction and provided a restricted curriculum with the emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic (the three Rs). The schools operated on a 'monitorial' system, whereby one teacher supervised a large class with the assistance of a team of monitors, who were quite often older pupils. Elementary school teachers were paid by results. Their pupils were expected to achieve precise standards in reading, writing and arithmetic such as reading a short paragraph in a newspaper, writing from dictation, and working out sums and fractions.
Before 1944 around 80 per cent of the school population attended elementary schools through to the age of 14. The remainder transferred either to secondary school or junior technical school at age 11. The school system was changed with the introduction of the Education Act 1944. Education was restructured into three progressive stages which were known as primary education, secondary education and further education.
In the UK, schools providing primary education are now known as primary schools. They generally cater for children aged from four to eleven (Reception to Year Six or in Northern Ireland and Scotland P1 to P7). Primary schools are often subdivided into infant schools for children from four to seven and junior schools for ages seven to 11. In the (diminishing) minority of areas where there is a "three-tier" system, children go to lower school or "first school" until about 9, then middle school until about 13, then upper school; in these places, the term "primary school" is not usually used.
In the UK schools providing primary education in the state sector are known as primary schools. They generally cater for children aged from four to eleven (Reception to Year Six; in Scotland Primary One to Primary Seven).
In areas that adopted a three-tier system, the term primary school is often used as an alternative to First School, taking in ages up to 9 or 10 years old, although for education planning purposes, the term "primary education" in these areas will still cover the age groups as in a two-tier system.
In the private sector, fee-paying schools which provide primary education are known as preparatory schools, and they often cater for children up to the age of thirteen. As their name suggests, preparatory schools are designed to prepare pupils for entrance examinations for fee-paying independent schools.
Children start school either in the year or the term in which they reach five depending upon the policy of the Local Education Authority. All state schools are obliged to follow a centralised National Curriculum. The primary school years are split into Key Stages:
At the end of Key Stage 2 in Year 6 all children in state primary schools are required to take National Curriculum tests in reading and mathematics also called SATs. All state primary schools are under the jurisdiction of the Department for Children, Schools and Families and are required to receive regular inspections by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). Private schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
They then change schools to go to secondary school.
Children start school either in the year or the term in which they reach four. All state schools are obliged to follow a centralised National Curriculum. The primary school years are split into Key Stages:
At the end of Key Stage 2 in P7, all children are offered the voluntary Eleven Plus (also called the transfer procedure) examinations, though the parents of thirty percent of children elect not to, and send their kids to secondary schools instead of grammar schools.
All state primary schools are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.
In Scotland children typically spend seven years in a primary school, whose years are named P1 to P7. Children enter P1 at the age of four or five (according to a combination of birth date and parental choice).
1st year - aged 12 to 13
2nd year - aged 13 to 14
3rd year - aged 14 to 15
4th year - aged 15 to 16
5th year - aged 16 to 17
6th year - aged 17 to 18
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Children in Wales spend 7 years at primary school between the ages of 4 and 11.
In the United States, authority to regulate education resides constitutionally with the individual states. The direct authority of the U.S. Congress and the federal U.S. Department of Education is essentially limited to regulation and enforcement of federal constitutional rights. Great indirect authority is exercised through federal funding of national programs and block grants; but there is no obligation upon any state to accept these funds, and the U.S. government otherwise may propose but not enforce national goals, objectives and standards, which generally lie beyond its jurisdiction.
Nevertheless, education has had a relatively consistent evolution throughout the United States. All states have historically made a distinction between two genres of K-12 education and three genres of K-12 school. The genres of education are primary and secondary; and the genres of school are elementary school, middle or junior high school, and high school (historically, "senior" high school to distinguish it from the junior school).
Primary education (or "primary school" meaning "primary education") still tends to focus on basic academic learning and socialization skills, introducing children to the broad range of knowledge, skill and behavioral adjustment they need to succeed in life - and, particularly, in secondary school. Secondary education or secondary school has always focused on preparing adolescents for higher education or/and for careers in industries, trades or professions that do not require an academic degree.
Over the past few decades, schools in the USA have been testing various arrangements which break from the one-teacher, one-class model. Multi-age programs, where children in different grades (e.g. Kindergarten through to second grade) share the same classroom and teachers, is one increasingly popular alternative to traditional elementary instruction. Another alternative is that children might have a main class and go to another teacher's room for one subject, such as science, while the science teacher's main class will go to the other teacher's room for another subject, such as social studies. This could be called a two-teacher, or a rotation. It is similar to the concept of teams in junior high school. Another method is to have the children have one set of classroom teachers in the first half of the year, and a different set of classroom teachers in the second half of the year.
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