Education Systems in North America Part XVIII: Nicaragua

 

The Nicaraguan Constitution defines education as a basic human right, emblematic of the country’s values and fundamental to citizens’ intellectual, civic, social and economic development. School is free and compulsory for children ages 6 to 16, although attendance is not strictly enforced due to many families’ need for their children to work.

Pre-primary education for children ages 0-3 is usually provided through community and church organizations. Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, for 4 and 5 year-olds, is obligatory and offered by primary schools and some independent preschools. Its objective is to promote social and language development and to prepare children for a more formal learning environment.  Two levels of primary school, for students in grades 1-4 and grades 5 and 6, are designed to foster language, communication, math, and critical thinking skills, and provide children with a basis for future studies.          

The goal of secondary education is to provide students with fundamental competencies which will ready them for further studies or the world of work. Students in grades 10 and 11 prepare for either a technical or academic track, which determines their coursework for the final year of school. As in other Central American countries, including Panama, upon completion of secondary school, students are awarded a Diploma of Completion of Basic Cycle Studies, known as a Bachillerato de Educacion Media.  Given that many high-school students must work to help support their families, the Nicaraguan government offers evening and distance learning classes.

Secondary school and post-secondary school students are graded as follows:

SCALE

GRADE DESCRIPTION

U.S. GRADE EQUIV.

90-100

Sobresaliente (Outstanding)

4.00/A

80-89

Muy Bueno (Very Good)

3.00/B

70-79

Bueno (Good)

2.00/C

0-69

Reprobado (Fail)

0.00/F

 

Primary school curriculum consists of Spanish (reading and writing), natural sciences, mathematics, social studies, and physical education.

Secondary schools offer Spanish, English, history and geography of Nicaragua and the Americas, civics, physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics, among other courses. Depending on whether students choose to pursue an academic or technical track they will spend more time in classes relating to a particular area, such as literature, science and technology, or vocational studies.

Students interested in pursuing a higher degree may study at any of over a dozen international and national universities. A variety of technical and vocational schools offer a range of programs, from agriculture at the Escuela Internacional de Agricultura y Ganaderia to technical studies through the Escuela Politecnica de Comercio.