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Dominican Republic

Educational System—overview

Structure & Degrees: In 1985 the structure of the educational pyramid consisted of three years of noncompulsory preschool education; six years in primary school; and six years in middle school, divided into two years of intermediate education and four years of secondary school, or into four years and two years (Plan de Reforma). Students who continued to that point received their high school degree (bachillerato) and might continue to the tertiary education provided by the Dominican universities, which conferred either licentiates (licenciaturas), ingenerias, or doctorados (doctorates—for law and medicine only), depending on the field of study.

The revised structure is no longer a simple pyramid. Of the three years of preschool education, one year became compulsory, as did nine years of basic primary school, effectively extending compulsory schooling by four years. Middle school (to receive the bachillerato degree) has been reduced to only three years and is noncompulsory, as is higher education. Middle school students are separated into academic and technical-professional tracks, receiving high school diplomas that specify their tracks. Education provided by the Dominican universities continues to confer licenciaturas, ingenerias, and doctorados, but with extended programs, especially in the areas of medicine and law, whose programs have been effectively doubled in both material and time. Also of note is the inclusion of maestrias and nonmedical doctorados as the higher education system expands its postgraduate degree systems.

Special Groups: Like many other countries the Dominican Republic must deal with the children of temporary migrant workers, primarily from Haiti. There appear to be no barriers to attendance within the school system, but many Haitian parents want their children to work in the fields and earn money rather than attend school. Some schools have been constructed in those zones where large populations of Haitians reside (the bateys).

In both secondary school and tertiary institutions, women predominated at the beginning of the millennium. The increase in women's employment, particularly in industrial free zones, has increased the pressure for wide availability of preschool. Some employers have begun a pilot program of four days working, four days off to allow women to go to school.

Education Reforms: In 1988, a "private" initiative combining interested business sectors and Pontificia Universidad Madre y Maestra (PUCMM, the major private Catholic university, a recipient of international money dedicated to research), with funding from the World Bank, began to work on a reconstruction of Dominican educational policy. This reconstruction plan was termed the Plan Decenal, or the 10-year Educational Plan. The unique participatory process that led to the formulation of the Plan Decenal produced three general outcomes: an identification of the main problems of education in the country; an understanding of research conducted about those problems, and the development of a series of proposals and innovations to solve them. More importantly, such a process increased the social capital of the nation for collective action around common goals. The initial success of the reform suggests that there is motivation and basic capacity in the country for undertaking national debates on social issues and developing general plans. The national government enthusiastically adopted the plans, which also garnered support throughout the international community.

Plan Decenal outlined the following goals:

  1. Raising the Educational Level of the General Population: increasing school attendance, reducing illiteracy, expanding adult education, and developing programs for informal learning.
  2. Increasing the Quality of Education: promoting innovation in education, compensating for the low socioeconomic level of students, bettering the living conditions of teachers, bettering the physical and pedagogical environment of the classroom, and raising the quality of the educational process.
  3. Strengthening Educational Technology: promoting scientific and technological innovation, introducing the use of computers, expanding and bettering educational techniques, creating new technical careers, and establishing new technical schools.
  4. Decentralizing the Educational System: modernizing the administrative system, encouraging the use of administrative meetings, and institutionalizing and standardizing the decision-making process.
  5. Strengthening Community Ties to the School System: encouraging reciprocity between school and community, strengthening parent-teacher associations, and bringing the secular world into the classroom.
  6. Increase the Investment in Education: by 1998, have use of 16 percent of the national budget for education; by 2001, have use of 25 percent of the national budget.

Organizational work continued throughout 1989 to 1990, when the commission Nacional del Plan Decenal (National 10-Year Plan) was formed through an alliance of SEEBAC (the Dominican Department of Education, later renamed SEEC), EDUCA, ADP (the teachers' union), the regional UNDP, and Plan Educativo, a Santo Domingo-based group of educators and industrialists. These groups worked both at the executive level of planning through use of chosen representatives and more extensively in the national consultas (consulting groups) that were to be developed for expanding and promoting the plan.

The system of consultas incorporated more than 100 institutions and involved more than 50,000 individuals. They were organized at five levels: open advising, institutional advising, national advising, internal advising, and regional advising. By 1993, through the process of the consultas, more than 100 organizations were officially listed as participants in the formulation of the Plan Decenal.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceDominican Republic - History Background, Consititutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education