The strong educational system in Syria is based on the old French system. Education is free in all public schools and obligatory up to the 9th grade. Schools are divided into three levels:
• 1st to 4th grade: Basic Education Level I
• 5th to 9th grade: Basic Education Level II
• 10th to 12th grade: Secondary Education , the equivalent of high school.
Final exams of the 9th grade are carried out nationally at the same time. The result of these exams determines if the student goes to the "general" secondary schools or the technical secondary schools. Technical secondary schools include industrial and agricultural schools for male students, crafts school for female students, and commercial and computer science schools for both.
At the beginning of the 11th grade, those who go to "general" secondary school have to choose to continue their study in either the "literary branch" or the "scientific branch".
The final exams of the 12th grade (the baccalaureate) are also carried out nationally and at the same time. The result of these exams determines the university, college and specialization that the student attends. To do that the student has to apply through a complicated system called Mufadalah.
Colleges charge modest fees ($10–20 a year) if the student achieves the sufficient marks in his Baccalaureate exams. If not, the student may opt to pay higher fees ($1500–4000) to enroll. There are some private schools and colleges but their fees are much higher.
Most universities in Syria follow the French model of higher education, the university stages and the academic degrees are:
• First stage: the Licence awarded after 4 years to 6 years depending on the field.
• Second stage: the DEA or DESS 1–2 years postgraduate degree equivalent to the Master's degree in the American/English systems