|The Dominican Republic probably has the longest
history of formal education in the Americas. Less than 10 years after Columbus
landed on the island, missionaries established schools. In 1538, the first
university in the Americas, Saint Thomas Aquinas, was established in Santo
Domingo. This university is known today as the Autonomous University of
The Dominican Republic has both public and
private education. All students go to school for half a day, and all wear
uniforms. Some private schools are run by the Roman Catholic Church. They
are generally considered to be academically superior to the public schools.
|Children start school at the age of 7. The first
six years of education are free and compulsory, but not all rural schools
offer all six grades. Less than 60% of children complete Grade 5. Many
parents cannot afford to send their children to school because they need
them to work to support the family. Also, until recently, all but the poorest
students had to buy their own textbooks and uniforms. In September 1999,
the Ministry of Education began to provide free textbooks to children in
public elementary schools.
foreign students go to the Dominican Republic for their university education,
particularly to study medicine, because the tuition fees are very low.
|Secondary schools are either state-operated or
state-subsidized. Although secondary school is usually free, students must
buy their own textbooks. Only about 40% of children are enrolled in secondary
school. There are several types of secondary education. Completion of the
six-year liceo leads to university admission. There are also teacher
training schools, polytechnics and vocational schools.
During the late 1990s many new schools were built,
many of them by foreign countries, such as Japan, Germany and the United
States. Many public schools have benefited from the installation of computers
and other equipment donated by other countries. As well as improving academic
standards and learning resources, an urgent concern of the Ministry of
Education is to improve family education. Family education is needed to
address problems such as domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies, prostitution
and sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.
|At the time of Trujillo's death, there was only
one university in the country. Today, there are more than 30 institutions
of higher learning. The Autonomous University of Santo Domingo is the only
university that is completely government-funded. For decades, it was the
centre of student political action. Partial government subsidies are also
provided to certain universities and institutes. The leading private universities
include Pedro Henriquez Urena National University and the Pontifical Catholic
University Mother and Teacher.