Grade school as well as high school is free and obligatory, this is in correspondence with the great transformations that have taken place in recent years in non-university education.
Education has several steps that start with infants, grade school, junior high school (12-16 years of age), senior high school and professional studies or university studies.
As part of the system there is the so-called special education, adult education, arts and crafts schools, as well as centres that favour the development of different cultural manifestations.
The rate of illiteracy in 1999 was 3.7 per cent.
University centres such as La Laguna or the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria had around 50 000 students enrolled in the first three cycles of the 2002-03 school year.
These university centres have the enormous responsibility of channelling and supporting most of the scientific research that is carried out in the Islands.