The Education System in Nicaragua


During the Somoza family reign of 42-and-a-half years, the educational system in Nicaragua was one of the worst in the world. Estimates for illiteracy were said to be around 75% to 90%. That’s why when the Sandinistas finally wrestled the mantle of control from the Somozas, setting to right the beleaguered educational system was among those put on top priority.

Basically, the Ministry of Education calls the shots with regards to education matters, specifically the primary and secondary school systems. The Sandinistas, when they were in power also created the National Technological Institute, for vocational training and the Institute of Culture, which is in-charge of museums and other cultural institutions. Then there is also the higher education system which is administered by the nation’s two premier independent universities: Central American University and the National Autonomous University.

Currently, the government now gives access to free education, regardless of gender, but free only up to primary schooling, a five-year program. Secondary school is also a five-year course. Students aged 12 to 15 years undergo three years, which they call in Nicaraguan education parlance, basic cycle. After completing the basic cycle, students are now eligible for two years of the second cycle they call “diversified cycle,” which when completed earns them a “Bachillerato” in Arts or Science. Students who have finished the basic cycle may also opt for a three-year technical course from a technical school instead of the “Bachillerato,” if they feel that pursuing higher education is not their cup of tea. All schools use Spanish as the medium of instruction. School year starts in March and ends in December.

Although the school system in Nicaragua has been improved by leaps and bounds, the country’s school system is still way beyond world standards. However, a bright spot remains that the government is hell-bent serious in reforming the school system as they believe that education is the real key to success.