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Education in Australia is primarily the responsibility of the individual states. In each state administration, the training and recruiting of teachers are centralized under an education department. Education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15 in all the states except Tasmania, where the upper age limit is 16. Most children start their schooling at the age of 5. State schools provide free secular education; students may attend religious classes offered by the clergy of various denominations. About 72 percent of students attend state schools. In addition to the state school system there are private schools, which are usually denominational and charge tuition fees. The majority of the private schools are Catholic. Some private schools, which in some states are called public schools as in Britain, accept day students and boarders. Schooling is provided at kindergartens and play centers for children from 2 to 6 years of age. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation conducts broadcasts for kindergarten children unable to attend such centers. Special provisions are made for children in isolated areas. These include Schools of the Air—where children use two-way radios, television sets, video and cassette recorders, and computers to participate in classroom instruction—and correspondence schools.
Most children transfer from the primary to the secondary school level at the age of 12. Secondary schools, known as high schools and junior technical schools, provide five- or six-year courses that enable students to prepare for state examinations for university entrance. The commonwealth government conducts the educational program for all children in the territories. In 1995 Australia had nearly 10,000 primary and secondary schools, with an annual enrollment of 1.9 million primary students and 2.4 million secondary students.