Education System in Bolivia


 EducationSchool/LevelGrade FromGrade ToAge FromAge ToYearsNotes
PrimaryPrimary    5 
MiddleJunior High School     3 
SecondarySecondary    4 
VocationalVocational/Technical School      
TertiaryUndergraduate    4 
TertiaryGraduate    1 
TertiaryDoctorate    3 

Primary Education

The Bolivian school education system is flawed in many ways. School time is split into 2 shifts (morning and afternoon) so everything is compressed and there is little time for things that make education pleasurable. State schools are underfunded and in poor repair too. The first 6 years at primary school are free and theoretically compulsory, although in practice approximately 20% of children receive no benefit.

Secondary Education

The four years of secondary education are non-compulsory and less than a quarter of young adults attend. Those that do so, mainly go to private schools. Some of these are private institutions based on the American model. Others are religiously affiliated and espouse traditional values. Hence education is skewed to the advantage of the already-haves and often passes over the heads of those who might have benefited the most.

Vocational Education

Vocational training in Bolivia is largely uncoordinated and left in the hands of private colleges in urban areas. There are a number of ongoing international aid agency initiatives in place. However, to the children of the rural poor, a chance to prove their value usually remains a dream because there is simply nowhere to enroll.

Tertiary Education

Bolivia EducationThere are 10 state-funded and 23 private universities. The University of San Andrés in La Paz is the largest in terms of student numbers, while the University of San Francisco Xavier in Sucre is the oldest, having been founded in 1624.


Here, an institution founded by a Spanish King to promote the wealthy gentry’s knowledge of theology and law has become democratized, and today welcomes all students to its arms who have surmounted the hurdles of a nation’s questionable education system.


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