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Bolivia

Educational System—overview


Generally speaking, education in Bolivia is divided into three cycles—four if one counts the optional prescholar or preprimary years. There are 5 years of elementary education in the primary cycle for 6- to 10-year-olds; 3 years of intermediate education in the middle schools for 11- to 13-year-olds; and 4 years of secondary education for 14- to 17-year-olds. The four years of secondary school are themselves divided into two cycles lasting two years each. The first cycle is a common core, while the second allows for some degree of specialization, either in the humanities or in a variety of technical fields. A movement exists to integrate both intermediate and secondary levels of education into one single cycle of eight years.

Prior to the reforms of the 1980s, the educational system operated with a six-year primary cycle followed by four years of intermediate schools and two years of secondary school with the baccalaureate degree as the terminal exam. The country passed a law that claims an official 8 years of compulsory schooling between the ages of 7 and 14. Unfortunately, this law is not regularly enforced. A 1991 study of the Cochabamba rural area showed that between the ages of 6 and 14 only 52.5 percent of males and 50.3 percent of females attended school exclusively. In other words, nearly half of the children worked. Nationwide, 83.4 percent of males and 70.4 percent of females attend school; also, 16.6 percent of males and 29.6 percent of females are not accounted for either in schools or at work. Additionally, 18.8 percent of males and 17.2 percent of females combine school with herding, and 12.1 percent of males and 2.9 percent of females combine school with agriculture.

A further cycle, higher education for 18- to 24-year-olds comprises different specialized schools, institutes below degree level, and universities. At the university level there are two avenues: the pregrado (undergraduate level) offers the Superior Technician and License degrees; the postgraduate programs deliver doctorados (doctorate degrees).

There are now both public and private institutions at all levels of education. At the intermediate level, the private sector represented approximately 25 percent of the national enrollments and 35 percent of the secondary levels in the early 1990s. Teacher training programs provide educators with opportunities to advance and develop skills in the classroom. One of the first of many institutions and associations created and called upon to implement the reform was the Reform Institute at the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports.


Additional topics

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