How is the education system in Colombia?

Colombia has a very good education system. The education system is of 11 years of which 5 years of elementary, 4 for lower secondary and 2 for upper secondary. The itinerary proposed by the Ministry allows students to integrate into society. It depends on their age and abilities.

Colombia is the fifth largest country in Latin America which is almost twice the size of Texas and has a population of over 46 million. If you are planning to move to Colombia than you must check the education system of Colombia to get the basics about the education system in Colombia.

In this article, we will discuss the education system in Columbia. The education system in Columbia is of 11 years which contains 5 years of elementary, 4 years of lower secondary and 2 years of upper secondary education. The basic education(elementary education) is free and compulsory too for children between the age of 5 to 15.

The Ministry of Education governs and regulates the education system in Columbia. Mostly the Ministry of Education lays the outline and learning objectives for the subject and for each grade level, but some schools are also allowed to organize their own specific study plans but that should be in accordance with community and regional needs.

How is the education system in Colombia?

So, let’s understand the how is the education system in Colombia.

The academic year in Colombia comprises of 40 weeks of study divided into 2 semesters with a 12- week break. For school system Education system has set forth teaching hours per year. 800 at preschool level, 1000 in elementary education, 1200 hours in secondary education.

The Colombian education system consists of 5 parts. Early, preschool, basic, high school, and higher education are the 5 parts of education. Basic education has 5 grades of primary and 4 grades of secondary. High school has two grades and ends with the bachelor’s degree.

Primary education, free primary schooling

Due to shortage of education facilities, government has adopted automatic promotion policy. Though many Colombians compare their standard favorable with those of America. Child from age 1 are in community daycare and nursery schools. They are sponsored by National Institute Family Welfare. At the age of 6 they are enrolling at elementary school. Standards in rural areas are compared with cities where teachers are better qualified.

The primary school starts for the Children of age 1 to 6. Generally children of age 1 to 6 are seen to go to a days ETA to a great day care or to the nursery school a national shortage of education facilities the Colombian government has adopted an automatic promotion policy. Despite this, many Colombians compare their standards favorably with those of America. From age 1 onwards children are seen in community daycare and nursery schools sponsored by the National Institute for Family Welfare. At age 6 they enroll at elementary school. Standards in rural areas compare badly with city ones where teachers are far better qualified.

Secondary education

Secondary education is of 4 years. It is from grade 6 to 9 and 2- year non-compulsory stage- Middle Vocational Education and grade 10 and 11. Vocational education offers specialization and is available in urban areas. It consists of technical, business, arts and others including academic programs.

Vocational education

Education for employment and human development aims at providing employees with technical skills. It helps to improve their standard of living. The basic model is set of human competencies. Through this employers and colleges build the training programs and curricula. It is a fundamental focus point of government due to shortage of university places.

School calendar and holidays, the academic year in Colombia

The Ministry of Education has two options for school calendar. First one starts in February with 4-week vacation in June and July and finishes in November. The second one starts in September with 4-week vacation in December and finishes in June. Each system has 198 days of school attendance.

In Colombia, there are two school calendars – A and B. The usual calendar is A, which starts at the end of January and has four academic periods, finishing in November. There are holidays for Easter, in June-July, and a week in October. All official and public schools use calendar A. Private schools tend to use calendar B, which starts at the beginning of September, and finishes in June. Both calendars have a month or month and a half of holidays for Christmas.

Language of instruction

The schools offer bilingual languages such as French, German, or English for instruction. They are expensive, private academies serving the students of prosperous families. Generally, in rural areas Spanish is taught in most schools where it is dominant. Areas where indigenous languages dominate there the law requires to offer bilingual programs. They use the native languages (Parra).

Grading system

In most high schools’ grade awarding is on a scale extending from 1 to 10. The system started in 1973 and later was replaced by using the scale of 1 to 5. The universities retained the shorter system. For university courses students take final exam that counts 20% of the grade. These tests are 2 hours long and students appear one test per day for 5 days.

Tertiary education and university

The higher education of Columbia comprises of technical institutes, technological, and academic universities. Most are aligned with government programs except for those with church affiliations. Academic strata include undergraduates, graduates, master’s degrees, and doctorates. Access to tertiary education is only for sons and daughter of wealthy city dwellers. Until the change in this rule tertiary education is dream for rural squalor.

Admission requirements in Colombia

Following are the requirements for admission to higher education institutions:

  • Undergraduate program students must hold a secondary school diploma or an equal qualification. They must have undertaken the “State Examination” for admission to higher education.
  • For specialization program, students must hold a degree in the related occupation.
  • For master’s degree, students must hold an undergraduate degree.
  • For doctorate degree, students must hold a master’s degree in a related field.

Ways of applying

Applicants must fill the registration form and submit to your choice of institutions. You must also attach all the required documents. You can fill the online form or download from the official website of the institution and send it via mail. You need to contact the respective higher education institution to know the procedure.


  • Application form and fee receipt.
  • Academic transcripts: Secondary education completion certificate- Bachelors Academic or Tertiary certificate.
  • State examination document.
  • An undergraduate degree or an equal qualification.
  • A valid identity document and two passport-size photos
  • Spanish language skill certificate- DELE B2 level.
  • Letter of recommendation. It must be through the teacher of educational institution where you study.
  • Research proposal in the discipline you want for doctorate thesis.
  • Resume of 2 pages
  • Applicants need to pass personal interview and admission exam. This exam is held by the higher education institution to which they are applying.

Source: Acei Globalwenr, ScholaroJust Landed


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