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Education and Schools

Colombia - Education and Schools

Colombia has an excellent education system. The formal system offers nursery education, primary school education and secondary education. There are also colleges for those who want further qualifications in technical or academic subjects. The compulsory education is for 11 years, with 5 at primary level and 5 at secondary level, the rest is spent in nursery education. Even though education is considered to be compulsory, there are a lot of children who do not complete their schooling.

State schools educate around 50% of the nation’s children, with the other 50% in private schools. University and college education is also private education as there is little public funding for higher education and there are tuition fees to pay.

Nursery education is available to all children over the age of one. This is provided in special community homes where the mothers of the children take care of them. They begin to read and write here and once they begin to learn basic skills they can begin at the primary school. Private kindergartens are available but the fees for these are usually quite high.

Primary schools offer 5 years of education which begins at the age of 6. In rural areas of Colombia there are a number of children who do not finish primary education as there are often problems with the quality of the teaching staff. Teaching staff in urban areas are usually much better trained. It is well known that there are some areas which are yet to have proper schools established and some children fall through the net.

Secondary schools offer as many technical subjects as they do academic, in order to train students for work and further study at the technical colleges. Universities offer both undergraduate and post graduate degrees and most degrees will take 5 years to complete. Those who choose to take technical courses will study for around 3 years. The Colombian government is committed to training people for a real trade and to earn a decent wage. As many children choose to drop out of academic study then technical training is a viable alternative.

Expats will be able to enrol their children in the state schools but depending upon the area it may be wise to choose a private school instead. Private schools will incur fees but there should be no waiting lists. Details on the schools available are available from the Colombian Ministry of Education.

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