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Chile – Education and Schools

Chile is a country in South America that places a high emphasis on education, with a literacy rate of over 96%. The country’s education system is divided into several levels, including preschool, primary school, secondary school, and higher education. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the education system in Chile.

Quality of Education

The quality of education in Chile varies widely depending on the school and region. In general, private schools and schools in wealthier areas tend to offer better education than public schools and those in poorer areas. However, the Chilean government has been working to improve the quality of education for all students by investing in schools and training teachers.

Compulsory Education

In Chile, education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 18. Students are required to attend primary and secondary school for a total of 12 years.

Types of Schools


Preschool education is not compulsory in Chile, but it is available for children as young as 2 years old. Preschools in Chile are run by both public and private institutions.

Primary School

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Primary school, also known as “educación básica,” is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 13. Primary school education in Chile lasts for 8 years and covers a wide range of subjects, including language, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Secondary School

Secondary school, also known as “educación media,” is compulsory for children between the ages of 14 and 18. Secondary school education in Chile lasts for 4 years and is divided into two stages: general education and specialized education. During the general education stage, students take classes in a wide range of subjects. During the specialized education stage, students focus on a specific area of study, such as science, humanities, or technical studies.

Vocational Schools

Vocational schools, also known as “centros de formación técnica,” are post-secondary institutions that offer technical and vocational training. These schools typically offer two-year programs that prepare students for careers in fields such as engineering, business, and health care.


Universities in Chile offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. Admission to universities is highly competitive, and students are required to pass a national exam in order to be admitted. Some of the top universities in Chile include the University of Chile, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and the University of Santiago.

Curriculum and Qualifications

Schools in Chile follow a national curriculum that is set by the Ministry of Education. Students are required to take classes in a wide range of subjects, including language, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, and the arts.

At the end of primary school, students take a national exam called the SIMCE. This exam measures students’ knowledge in a variety of subjects and helps to identify areas where students may need additional support.

At the end of secondary school, students take another national exam called the PSU. This exam is used for university admissions and measures students’ knowledge in subjects such as language, mathematics, science, and history.

School Hours and Holidays

School hours in Chile vary depending on the school and level of education. Generally, primary schools operate from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, while secondary schools operate from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Schools in Chile typically operate from Monday to Friday.

The school year in Chile runs from March to December, with two-week breaks in July and September and a longer summer break from December to February.

Enrolling in School

To enroll in a school in Chile, parents or guardians must provide various documents, including the child’s birth certificate, proof of vaccinations, and a certificate of residency or visa. In some cases, schools may require additional documentation, such as academic transcripts from previous schools or evidence of the child’s health status.

The competition for enrollment in Chilean schools varies depending on the location and the school. In some areas, there may be a limited number of schools, and competition for enrollment can be fierce. However, in other areas, there may be several schools available, and parents have more options to choose from.

International Schools

Chile has a variety of international schools that offer education in English or other languages. These schools cater to the expatriate community and may also accept Chilean students. Some of the most popular international schools in Chile include:

These schools follow international curricula and offer a range of programs, including the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs. They also offer extracurricular activities and sports programs, as well as support services for students who are new to Chile or who speak English as a second language.

What options are there for higher education in Chile?

Chile has a variety of options for higher education, including universities, technical schools, and vocational schools. The most prestigious universities in Chile include:

These universities offer a range of programs, including undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of fields, such as business, law, engineering, and the sciences. In addition to these universities, Chile has a network of technical and vocational schools that provide training in specific trades and skills.

In recent years, Chile has made efforts to improve access to higher education and has introduced various scholarship and loan programs to help students afford tuition and living expenses. As a result, more Chileans than ever before are pursuing higher education, and the country has become a regional leader in educational attainment.

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