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Dominican Republic - Education and Schools
The situation with secondary school dropout rates is also concerning. Education in dropout Dominican Republic is compulsory until the age of 14. However, only 10% of students go on to graduate after secondary school. The Ministry of Education, which oversees the public schools, was making efforts in order to improve the quality of education. They tried to reduce class sizes and make new classrooms. The overall cost of that investment was RD$6 billion in 2013 alone.
The Dominican education system is divided into four groups:
- Pre-school education (Nivel Inicial)
- Primary education (Nivel Basico)
- Secondary education (Nivel Medio)
- Higher education (Nivel Superior)
Known as Nivel Inicial in the Dominican Republic, pre-school education is for children under the age of six. For children across the country, only the final year of this education is compulsory. It has three different cycles. The first is for children between 0 and 2 years old, the second cycle is for children between 2 and 4 years old, and the third is for children between 4 and 6 years old.
This level of education is called Nivel Basico and it includes students from the age of 6 to the age of 14. Primary school is compulsory for all children in the Dominican Republic. This education is eight years long and it's split into two cycles. The first cycle includes grades 1 to 4, made for children 6 to 10 years old, while the second one includes grade 5 to 8 and is for children 10 to 14 years old. Each grade includes 10 months of teaching.
This level is called Nivel Medio and it includes students 14 to 18 years old, but it is not compulsory. The number of children who study at this level is very low. This level is split into two cycles, lasting two years each. The first cycle includes general and compulsory education, while the second one has a more flexible curriculum, allowing students to concentrate either on technical and vocational education or on artistic education.
The vocational and technical program prepares students for particular professions and practices. It teaches students about industry, agriculture and other similar areas. The arts education enables the students to enter the world of creative careers. Here, students can choose between music, visual arts, performing arts, and applied arts. To finish this level of education, students must have passing grades on national exams, and participate in a community service program.
The Dominican Republic offers both public and private options when it comes to higher education. There are five public institutions: Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, Fuerzas Armadas, El Instituto Superior de Formacion de Maestros Salome Urena, Instituto Politecnico Loyola, and Instituto Technologico de Americas. Among these institutions, Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo is considered to be the country's official state university, while the others are more specialized in particular areas.
Apart from public institutions, there are also almost 40 private universities in the Dominican Republic. Within these institutions, students can choose several different options. They can opt for technical studies which require two years and 85 credits minimum, while Graduate Studies require 140 credits. In order to obtain a specialty in Graduate Studies, they have to count on the increased credit requirements.
For law, architecture, engineering, pharmacy, veterinary science, and dentistry, they need to have 200 credits and study for four years. On the other hand, for medicine the requirement is 5 years of studies plus one year internship. After graduate studies, students have the option of post-graduate education which includes one year and 20 credits minimum. In order to obtain a Master's degree, students usually study for two years with a 40 credit requirement.
Private and public schools
During recent years, most expat parents have been choosing to enroll their children in private schools in the Dominican Republic. It's not common to see children of expats in public schools in this country.
Public education is free and available to all children under the age of 14 in the Dominican Republic, regardless of their immigration status. However, Dominican citizenship is required if they wish to continue their education after primary school. The quality of education hasn't improved much in recent years due to lack of government spending. Classes are usually overcrowded and facilities are insufficient.
The school year in the Dominican Republic is split into two terms, with a Christmas break in the middle. There is also a summer holiday that lasts for a month and a half, from late June to mid-August. The typical school day begins at 7:30 or 8 am and finishes at around 2 pm. There are also cases where kids start at noon and finish around 6 pm. It largely varies from school to school.
The tradition of private schools in the Dominican Republic is long. In general, the number of students enrolled each year is increasing. In Santo Domingo, more than 70% of the schools are private. Private schools in the Dominican Republic tend to have more children of different nationalities than public schools. Therefore, much of the instruction is in English. Proficiency in English must be demonstrated before enrolling in a private school in most cases.
Tuition fees vary from school to school, but it's generally more expensive as the child gets older. English language private schools tend to have fees which are much higher than the most other private schools. Religious private schools are partially funded by the government in the Dominican Republic.
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