Country Listing

Colombia Table of Contents



The education sector has grown explosively at all levels since the early 1960s. By 1987 primary-school enrollment had more than doubled, secondary-school enrollment had grown sixfold, and university enrollments had increased fifteen times. The literacy rate was approximately 88 percent in 1987. Private schools accounted for 15 percent of the enrollments at the primary level, 40 percent at the secondary-school level, and 60 percent at the university level. But the principal reason for the rapid expansion of the education system was the massive increase in public outlays for education.

Government funding for education increased fivefold in real terms between 1966 and 1986. In 1987 federal education expenditures represented between a quarter and a third of the national budget. The country's rapid urbanization fostered the overall expansion of education from the 1960s through the late 1980s. Various modifications in national legislation regulating education increased national government responsibility in education financing. Among the key modifications were the nationalization laws that in 1960 transferred financial responsibility for primary education to the national government and in 1975 did the same for secondary education. In addition, mechanisms for revenue-sharing between the regions and the national government were developed. Despite considerable progress, however, major disparities in education quality persisted among social classes and regions, as well as between the public and private sectors and between rural and urban areas.

Data as of December 1988