Free and compulsory education in the Dominican Republic is basic by western standards whether provided by private or state schools. Notwithstanding this, 85% of Dominicans are officially literate. Pre-school lasts 1 year and is followed by 6 more years in primary school.
A significant proportion of primary school children go on to study for 2 more years at secondary school which functions as a bridge to further education. Subjects are academic. and this disadvantages children from poorer areas who are ill-prepared.
Very few poorer scholars manage to complete the final 4 years of compulsory education at Dominican Republic secondary schools. This is because the system is intended to encourage upper- and middle-class youth to aspire to tertiary education. Those who do succeed, receive a bachillerato degree
similar to a high school diploma.
Since its inception in 1980 the National Technical Vocational Training Institute has tried to improve vocational prepration on an ongoing basis. This includes delegating bench marked vocational training programs to cooperating training centers while maintaining the core role of training trainers.
The primary state-owned tertiary institution in the Dominican Republic is the University of Santo Domingo founded in 1538, and the oldest university in the New World. Students who are fortunate enough to go there continue to receive their education free, because it is fully government funded.
Private alternatives include the Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra. Generally speaking, tertiary education continues to be the privilege of the fortunate few in the Dominican Republic.