Schools in Central America

Schools in Central America

When we think of the Americas, we usually imagine such giants as Canada and the US in the North and Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Peru in the South. But we sometimes forget that the two huge continents are connected with a bridge, a small piece of land, stretching between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This ‘bridge’ is inhabited by 41 million people and is called Central America. Central America is comprised of seven independent countries:

  • Nicaragua
  • Belize
  • Honduras
  • Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • El Salvador
People looking for adventures always find these countries amazing and consider them paradise on earth. Ancient ruins and breathtaking natural wonders will amaze every tourist who comes to visit these gorgeous places.

How Well Are People Educated in Central America?

In spite of all seven countries being developing countries, there is a huge economic and educational diversity within them. Thus, Nicaragua has the lowest position in the ranking of the seven countries. Thus, Nicaragua has the lowest adult literacy rate among all of them – 63.4%. Nicaragua is followed by Guatemala, whose rate of literacy is only 66.6%. Then we have Belize, Honduras and El Salvador with the rates of 76.9%, 70.7% and 77% respectively. Panama and Costa Rica are showing rather good results – 91.1% and 95.1%. The situation with Guatemala, for instance, is quite ironic. La Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, which was festablished more than three centuries ago, is one of the largest universities by enrollment in the world (124,000 undergraduate and graduate students). But the Guatemalan rate of literacy still remains quite low. Let’s now look at school systems in some of Central American countries.

El Salvador

School in the country consists of two major stages. The first stage is primary school. Children begin to attend primary school at the age of 7. Primary education's duration is 9 years. Primary school is the foundation. It provides children with the platform of knowledge important for further education. The second stage is secondary school which consists of grades 10 and 11. As a rule, secondary education lasts for 2 years. Yet, there are some vocational programs with duration of 3 years. Unfortunately, over 300,000 young people (15 – 24 years old) in El Salvador neither study not work. Another problem is that approximately 50% of children stop attending school after grade 6. Less than half of the students who obtain primary, or basic education, go to secondary school.


School system in this country also has two levels: primary and secondary school. After school children can start studying at a university. Children must attend school for six years. Obligatory education for kids aged 7 through 14 in Guatemala is free, but parents need to pay for uniforms and textbooks. Almost all children study in primary school, and the percentage of boys and girls is equal. Unfortunately, the statistics demonstrate that only 75% of children who attend primary school manage to graduate from grade 6. Besides, less than 40% of children continue their education and begin to study in secondary school. It is also quite interesting that only 60% of the country’s population speak Spanish, although it is the official language of the country. However, Indian population speaks numerous indigenous languages, such as Quiche, Kakchiquel, K'ekchi, etc.


Nicaraguan school is comprised of three major levels: primary, lower secondary and upper secondary school. Children become primary school students at the age of seven. Primary school here is mandatory, does not charge tuition fees, and lasts only for 6 years. Lower secondary school includes grades 7 through 9, whereas upper secondary school consists of grades 10 and 11. Secondary school is also compulsory and free. In addition to that, children can attend a one-year pre-school class which is also free. Nicaraguan children study in school in shifts. There are three available school shifts – morning, afternoon, and evening shifts. The reason why school is structured like this is that a lot of children need to work to help their families financially. Unfortunately, Nicaraguan schools are not technologically advanced; this is why students can only learn basic subjects. Read more about this country’s education system on this page:


The system of education in Belize is mostly based on the British school system, and influenced by the US system as well. Today Belizean school consists of two levels, primary and secondary, followed by tertiary education. Children are obliged to attend school for 8 years. They start their education when they are six and finish primary, compulsory education at the age of 14. Despite the fact that primary education is mandatory, a lot of children have to quit school. They have to work and support their families. A lot of parents just have no money to buy books, uniforms, and other supplies that students are required to have. Secondary education program lasts for 4 years, and only 50% of students who finish primary school can attend secondary school. Even less children continue their education and finish two more years of post-secondary school. Private schools provide students with better opportunities, but not too many people can afford to send their kids to a private institution. It goes without saying that getting education is the right of every person. Of course, it is sad that so many children cannot enjoy this opportunity. We only hope that this situation will change, and that children in Central America will be able to obtain their education and have better, safer lives. Need help with essays? Ask our team of experts for assistance!