La República de Colombia (The Republic of Colombia) is located in northwestern South America and is surrounded by Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The population is 44,379,598,
and the literacy rate is 92.8%. It is the 4th largest country in South America and the 26th largest in the world.
Hunter-gatherers were in the area as far back as 10,000BC. The Spanish explorer, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, arrived in 1508 and began the colonization of South America and the Kingdom of New Granada was established. It included the borders of present-day
Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. In 1810, independence from Spain was declared with Simón Bolívar as the first president of the Republic of Greater Colombia. Venezuela and Ecuador seceded from the Republic in 1830 and the country
became known as Nueva Granada. It 1856, the name was changed to the Confederación Granadina until 1886 when the current name of República de Colombiawas adopted. Panama seceded
Education is compulsory from ages 5 to 13. Educación pre-escolar (pre-school education) is one year beginning at age 5. Educación Básica Primaria (Primary Basic Education) is 5 years and, upon
completion, students are awarded a Certificado de Educación Básica. Educación Básica Secundaria (Lower Secondary Education) is 4 years and, upon completion, students are awarded a
Certificado de Estudios de Bachillerato Básico or a Certificado de Conclusión del Ciclo Básico.
Upper secondary (Educación Media) and technical upper secondary (Educación Media Técnica) is 2 years and is offered at colegios and liceos. Students are
awarded a Bachillerato upon completion of studies.
First Cycle, Academic
Admission to universities requires a bachillerato and an examen del estado (state entrance exam). There are 75 public and private universidades and 90 instituciónes universitarias (university institutions). Coursework at this level is measured in unidades de labor académica (ULA) (academic work units). The first level of studies (licenciatura) is 4-5 years long and students are
awarded a Título de Licenciado after earning at least 3200 ULAs. There are some degrees, relatively few, that are 3- or 3 ½ years in duration (2100 - 3000 ULAs). The Título Profesional is awarded after the minimum coursework
and defense of a thesis. Law, engineering, medicine and dentistry programs are 5 years.
First cycle, Vocational/Technical
Technical and vocational post-secondary study is offered at 60 instituciónes tecnológicas(technological institutes) and 51 instituciónes técnicas professionales (professional technical
institutions). Programs are 2-2.5 years and students are awarded a Título de Técnico Profesional Intermedio . 3-3.5-year programs award a Título de Tecnólogo or a Título de Licenciado.
Graduate programs require a Título de Licenciado or a Título Profesional and an entrance examination for admission. After ½-1 year of study, students are awarded a Diplomado,
after 1-2 years of study, students are awarded a Título de Especialista and the Título de Magister/Título de Maestría is awarded after 2 years and is the credential required for admission
to doctoral programs. Título de Especialista programs following licenciado programs in law, engineering, medicine or dentistry are 1-4 years long.
Doctoral programs require 2 years of coursework in the same area of study as the Magister/Maestría program, plus defense of a dissertation. Upon completion, students are awarded a Título de Doctor.
Students in education doctoral programs are awarded a Título de Doctor en Ciencias de la Educación.
Primary and secondary school teachers are all trained at the licenciatura level at faculties of education at universities and university institutions.