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If Nicaragua's educational system was evaluated on the basis of its primary schools, the nation would earn medium to high marks. Unfortunately, educational performance, participation, and effectiveness drop off considerably as grade levels increase. Even by the fifth and sixth grades, despite high levels of participation, academic performance has dropped considerably. Secondary schools serve such a limited portion of the population that the question of their performance is somewhat moot. Given the weakness of the secondary schools, the numbers and quality of students in higher education are probably better than might be expected.

Given the low enrollment levels for students in secondary education and beyond, Nicaragua's greatest need is to extend universal education to a much wider portion of its population if its citizens are to compete with those in the more developed nations in Latin America. Specifically, secondary education needs to be made more accessible to those living in rural areas. Along the lines of accessibility, evening and Saturday secondary education classes, while widely available, suffer significantly in quality. Another significant improvement needed is improved primary teacher training, raising the level of this instruction above that of secondary education. Ultimately, the most important challenge facing Nicaragua in coming years is economic. With a crushing debt and other economic hardships, the incentive to slash education budgets will rise in the future. The nation's success in obtaining debt relief or otherwise dealing with its looming economic crisis will to a large degree dictate the possible future course of education.


Arellano, Jorge Eduardo. Brevísima historia de la educa ción en Nicaragua: de la colonia a los años '70 del siglo XX. Managua: Instituto Nicaragüense de Cultura Hispánica, 1997.

Arnove, Robert F. Education as Contested Terrain: Nicaragua. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994.

Arríen, Juan Bautista. La educación en Nicaragua entre siglos, dudas y esperanzas Managua, Nicaragua: Universidad Centroamericana: Programa de Promoción de la Reforma Educativa en América Latina, 1998.

Behrman, Jere R., and Barbara L. Wolfe. "Investments in schooling in two generations in pre-revolutionary Nicaragua; the roles of family background and school supply." The Journal of Development Economics, October 1987.

King, Elizabeth M., Berk Ozler, and Laura B. Rawlings. "Nicaragua's School Autonomy Reform: Fact or Fiction." Working Paper Series on Impact Evaluation of Education Reforms Paper No. 19. Development Research Group, The World Bank, September 1999.

Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deportes. Estadísticas de la educación en Nicaragua, 1989-1996, Dirección de Estadísticas Educativas: UNICEF. Nicaragua, 1999.

—Mark Browning

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceNicaragua - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education