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El Salvador


La República de El Salvador (Republic of El Salvador) is located on the central American isthmus bordered by Guatemala, Honduras and the North Pacific Ocean. The population is 6,948,073 and the literacy rate is 80.2%. Spanish is the official language of government and instruction, and Nahua is widely spoken.

Spanish conquistadors arrived in present-day El Salvador in the early 16th century. Despite much resistance, the area came under Spanish control in 1528. On September 15, 1821, Central America gained independence from Spain. In 1823, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica formed the United Provinces of Central America, which was loosely based on the United States of America. In 1838, the Union was dissolved and El Salvador became an independent nation.

Throughout the years following independence, El Salvador suffered through revolutions and military coups. During the civil war of 1979-1991, the Universidad Naciónal de El Salvador was closed. Following the Peace Accords in January 1991, El Salvador has remained stable.


Education in El Salvador is free and compulsory from ages 6 - 15 and overseen by the country's Ministerio de Educación.

Primary Education

Educación básica (Basic education) is 9 years and students are awarded a Diploma de Educación Básica upon completion.

Secondary Education

Educación media (Secondary education) is 3 years, and students awarded a bachillerato general or a bachillerato técnico vocacional, depending on their program of study. The bachillerato general prepares students for admission to universities, and the bachillerato técnico vocacional is a specialized program to prepare students for employment or further technical education at the post-secondary level.

The length of upper secondary education was revised in 1991, and implementation took place from 1995-2005. This law affected only the general (academic) bachiller/bachillerato. The technical or vocational baccalaureate remains the same. Specifically:

The Bachiller/Bachillerato General was reduced from 3 years to 2 years of upper secondary education (formerly requiring 12 years of study the bachiller/bachillerato general has been reduced to 11 years of study). Students may attend full-time for two years or part-time/evening classes for three years. Regardless of the number of years of study, the credential awarded is the bachillerato general, i.e., whether students complete 11 years full-time or 12 years part-time the credential earned is the same.

The Bachiller/Bachillerato técnico o vocacional remains a 12 year program requiring 3 years of upper secondary education. Students may attend full-time for three years or part-time/evening classes for four years. Regardless of the number of years of study, the credential awarded is the Bachillerato técnico o vocacional (technical or vocational baccalaureate), i.e., whether students complete 12 years full-time or 13 years part-time the credential earned is the same.

Post-Secondary Education

Graduate programs are 2 years following a licenciatura programs. Students are awarded a maestría after completion of coursework and successful defense of a thesis. Doctoral programs require at least one year of coursework following a maestría. Upon successful completion of coursework and defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a doctorado.

Teacher Training

Primary and secondary school teachers are trained in 3-year programs at universities, technical and other specialized higher education institutions. Upon completion, they are awarded a Título de Professor.



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