The República de Nicaragua (Republic of Nicaragua) is located in Central America and is bordered by Honduras, Costa Rica, the Pacific Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea. It is the largest country in Central America and is also one of the poorest
in Latin America. The population is 5,785,846 and the literacy rate is 67.5%. The official language is Spanish and is spoken by almost 98% of the population. 69% of the population is Mestizo (mixture of Amerindian and White), 17% are White, 9% are
Black, and the remainder are Amerindian.
Civilization in the area of present-day Nicaragua can be traced back at least 6,000 years. In 1502, Christopher Columbus landed on the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua. In 1524, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba founded the first permanent European
settlements. For the next 5 years, there were many clashes with the indigenous peoples of the area, resulting in the almost complete destruction of the indigenous civilizations. Nicaragua became a part of the Mexican Empire, and in 1821, it gained
independence and joined the United Provinces of Central America. In 1838, it became an independent republic.
Education is overseen by the Ministerio de Educación and is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 12.
Educación primaria (Primary school) is 6 years and, upon completion, students are awarded a Diploma de Educación Primaria.
Following primary school, students have the choice of continuing in a vocational program or in a curso básico (lower secondary school). Vocational programs are 2 years and students are awarded a Técnico Básico upon completion.
Lower secondary school is 3 years and, upon completion, students are awarded a Diploma de Curso Básico.
Upper secondary school is vocational/technical or academic. Vocational/technical upper secondary school is 3 years and students are awarded a Técnico Medio diploma upon completion. Academic upper secondary school is 2 years. Depending on
their course of study and future educational goals, upon completion, students are awarded a Bachiller en Ciencias y Letras.
There are approximately 200 post-secondary educational institutions in Nicaragua. Universities are accredited by the Consejo Nacional de Universidades (National Council of Universities).
Vocational/technical post-secondary programs are offered at centros técnicos superiores (higher technical centers). They are 2-3 year programs and, upon completion, students are awarded a Técnico Superior diploma.
Undergraduate university programs are 4-5 years, depending on the program of study, and lead to the Licenciatura. Graduate programs include a 1 or more-year Postgrado diploma and Maestria programs which require 2 years of coursework
and defense of a thesis. There are no doctoral programs offered in Nicaragua.
Primary school teachers are trained at escuelas normales (teacher training schools). It is a 5-year program following completion of primary school. Upon completion, students are awarded a Diploma de Maestro de Educación Primaria.
Secondary school teachers must complete a 4-year licenciatura program in a university.