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The Republiek Suriname (Republic of Suriname) is located on the north coast of South America and is bordered by Guyana, Brazil, French Guiana, and the North Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country in South America in terms of both population and area. The population is 475,996 and the literacy rate is 89.6%. Dutch is the official language, though English is widely spoken. Surinamese (or Taki-Taki - a Creole dialect), Caribbean Hindustani, and Javanese are also spoken.

The area of present-day Suriname was discovered by French, Spanish, and English explorers in the 16th century. The 1667 Treaty of Breda gave the Dutch the colony of Suriname and the British were given control of New Amsterdam which is now known as New York City in the United States of America.

African slaves were brought to the area to work the coffee, cocoa, sugar, and cotton plantations. Slavery was officially abolished in 1863. Due to an insufficient labor supply in Suriname, contract laborers from Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) and India were brought to the area. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, laborers from China and the Middle East came to Suriname.

Suriname was granted independence on November 25, 1975.


Currently, the Ministerie van Onderwijs, Wetenschap en Cultuur serves as the country's ministry of education.

Primary Education

Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 12. Gewoon Lager Onderwijs (GLO) (Primary Education) is 6 years beginning at age 6. At the end of the 6th year, students sit for an external examination which determines their placement in junior (lower) secondary school.

Secondary Education

Voortgezet Onderwijs Op Junioren Niveau (junior secondary school) is 4 years and has academic and vocational streams. Students with the highest score on the placement examination are placed in the academic stream (MULO) which has a languages/business stream leading to the MULO-A diploma, and a math/physics stream leading to the MULO-B diploma. Approximately 50% of students are in the MULO stream.

Vocational lower secondary school (LBGO) is 4 years and offers pre-professional programs. Programs are offered at junior technical secondary schools (LTO), elementary vocational schools (EBO), vocational home economics schools (LNO), and special education schools (VBO). Students with the highest vocational stream scores are placed in a junior technical secondary school (LTO). This is the only vocational stream that leads to further education.

Students in the academic junior secondary school programs are placed in academic upper secondary school programs that are based on scores earned on the MULO examination. Students with the highest scores are placed in the 3-year pre-university program leading to the Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) (Pre-University Certificate). Students with lower scores from academic junior secondary school programs and students who have completed a junior technical secondary school (LTO) program are placed in a 2-year program leading to the Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs (HAVO) (General Upper Secondary Certificate) program.

Students with insufficient scores on the MULO or LBGO examinations can continue on in a 4-year program at the technical college (NATIN), a 4-year primary school teacher training program at a teacher training college (PA), or in a 2- or 3-year program at the commercial college (MEAO).

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education is offered at the Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname, Academie voor Hogere unst en Cultur Onderwijs, and several vocational/technical schools. Admission to the University of Suriname requires a Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO). Students who hold a Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs (HAVO) must complete a 1-year bridge program before being admitted to the University of Suriname or can continue on in a vocational/technical post-secondary program.

First Cycle

The first-level university programs are offered at Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname and the Academie voor Hogere unst en Cultur Onderwijs. The programs are 4 years and lead to the Bachelors degree. A Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) is required for admission. Students who hold a Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs (HAVO) must complete a one-year bridge program before continuing on to a bachelors program.

Second and Third Cycle

Masters degree programs require at least 1.5 years of coursework following a Bachelors degree. Doctoral programs are only offered at Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname.

Teacher Training

Primary school teachers are trained in a 4-year program leading to the Akte van Volledig Bevoegd Onderwijzer/Hoofdakte. Admission requires a MULO-A or MULO-B certificate. Students who hold a Hoger Algemeen Voortgezet Onderwijs (HAVO) are placed in the 3rd year of the program.

Lower secondary school teachers are trained at the Instituut voor de Opleiding van Leraren (Teacher Training Institute) in a 2-year program leading to the LO Certificate. Upper secondary school teachers are trained in a 3-year program leading to the Meer Onderwijs (MO) Akte. Both programs require a Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) for admission. Students who hold an LO Certificate are admitted to the 3rd year of the Meer Onderwijs (MO) Akte program.



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