School is free and compulsory for Honduran children from age 7 to 14. In fact, very few children progress beyond grade two or three. Education at higher levels is often not offered in rural areas, and many students are unable to travel to distant schools.

There is a shortage of schools, teachers and materials such as textbooks. Teachers may have classes with 50 students, leaving little or no time for individual attention. In remote areas, many people who learned to read as children lose the ability after leaving school because they do not have access to books, magazines or newspapers and cannot practise what they have learned.

The school system has three levels. The first six years are spent at a primary school, the next three in a general program at the secondary level, and the last three in a specialized program at the secondary level. Hondurans who complete both secondary programs may go to university.

The language of instruction in most schools is Spanish, although some schools in the Bay Islands operate in English. Most large cities have bilingual (Spanish and English) schools. There are often separate schools for boys and girls. Students at these schools wear uniforms. The Honduran school year starts in February and ends in November.

Although about half the people in Honduras receive some level of primary education, only about one in ten proceed to the secondary level. Students who reach grades 10 to 12 in technical or trade schools are trained as teachers, carpenters, computer technicians, and workers in similar occupations.

The main university in Honduras is the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa. It is a public university, founded in 1847. It has branches in San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. There are also private universities in Honduras: José Cecilio del Valle University, Central American Technological University and the University of San Pedro Sula.

Adult education programs offer basic education to adults who have no previous schooling. Some programs offer more advanced training for adults who have already received some education.

   Did you know?
In the past, students living in the countryside had to get up as early as 3:00 a.m. to do chores before walking several miles to school. When school ended at noon, they walked home during the hottest part of the day and did more chores. Today, with improved transportation, students in the countryside get up at about 5:00 a.m.