In Australia it varies from state to state. Here, in Queensland, it used to be that you got your Learner's permit by passing a written test. Having an 'L' plate meant that you could ride only if a fully licenced person was following you on another bike.
After 3 months, you did a riding test for your Provisional licence ('P' plate). Your were restricted to a 250cc max for the next 12 months, with no pillion.
When that 12 months was completed, you were given an Open licence and could ride whatever you wanted and carry a pillion.
The rules were modified last year, but only for those who've held an Open cage licence for 3 + years. Now, you can take a 'Q-Ride' course, which vary from 2 - 4 days, depending on where you do it and, if you pass it, go ride whatever you like. You still have to wait 12 months before carrying a pillion.
This is what my girl and I did, except we just did a 1 day course to get a restricted licence (250cc max.) as we had bought a ZZR 250. I had to go back and do another 1 day course (I'd been riding for a while by then) to get my Open licence. My girl is happy with her 250, but I keep encouraging her to go bigger. I plan to do some advanced courses, too, rather than learn by trial and error
, picking up bad habits along the way.
I think courses should be mandatory for all riders, regardless of age and previous bike experience.