In 1997-1998 there were about 275,000 students in the country's two divisions of secondary education. The lower division is called basic, or secondary. The higher level is called upper secondary, or high school. The basic level consists of grades 7 through 9, and the higher level is grades 10 and 11. There is some hope of adding a twelfth grade in the future. Education is compulsory, as mentioned earlier, through ninth grade.
An assessment of the primary teaching activities for ninth graders found that:
- They consist of low cognitive complexity level tasks.
- They are centered on the text and not on transferring potential to other learning activities.
- They do not foster understanding or promote critical and independent thinking.
The typical school day in the secondary school classroom follows a pattern similar to that of the primary schools, as follows:
- Lesson starts by calling the roll and taking note of those absent.
- Teachers check students' homework.
- Teachers propose more exercises or ask questions.
- Teachers introduce a new concept or lesson.
- Teachers make sure students learn the "right" answers.
- Lesson ends with the indication of more homework.
- Lesson lasts for 45 minutes.
The school day for basic, or the lower level of secondary education, is five to six hours per day; for the higher level, it is six to seven hours per day. Most students also have two or more hours of homework. History, geography, biology, physics, chemistry, and foreign languages are studied at the secondary level and, at the higher level, students choose an emphasis to study. The choices include humanities, physics and math, chemistry and biology, vocational education, or language. High school is the highest level of education before students reach eligibility for entering higher education.
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