Dominican Education System

The Dominican Education System is organized into levels, phases, grades and modalities.

The academic structure was reorganized in 2014 and, according to this reform which is still ongoing, the Dominican Education System is classified into four levels: a) Early Childhood, b) Primary, c) Secondary, and d) Higher Education. These levels are organized into phases and the latter into grades. Each grade level corresponds to the academic coursework that is offered throughout an academic school year [1].

Education is managed by two separate ministries: the Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic (MINERD) ( and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MESCyT) ( The former is responsible for pre-university public school education (early childhood, primary and secondary), and is in charge of the management of all pre-university education (both public and private). In turn, the MESCyT controls higher education, including courses associated with the preparatory training of teachers. However, it is delimited by the laws that protect the autonomy of universities.

Ordinance 3-2013 changed the structure of the levels mandated by the General Education Law ( However, a time for transition and adjustment to carry out this change has been granted. The levels, as set out below, are described next.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Its duration is six years and it is organized into two levels. The first level caters to the population from 0 to 3 years (preschool), and the second comprises the population from 3 to 6 years (kindergarten). The State assumes the responsibility of offering the second level of education to all children in the country. So far, only the last year of kindergarten for all 5-year-olds is offered free of charge and it is compulsory, although the Early Childhood program is in the process of being implemented to cover previous levels, which is expected to have significant long-term effects.

PRIMARY EDUCATON: Primary education is compulsory. It lasts six years and is offered to children between the ages of 6 and 12. It is organized in two levels: the first one comprises from first to third grade and it is usually directed to the population of 6 to 9 year-olds, and the second one encompasses from fourth to sixth grade, and it usually serves the population between the ages of 9 and 12 years old. The State assumes the responsibility of offering it to all inhabitants of the country and to assure that families commit themselves to making this right a reality.

SECONDARY EDUCATION: Secondary education is mandatory and the State assumes the responsibility of offering it free of charge. Its duration is six years and it serves the school population of 12 to 18 year-olds. It is made of two (2) phases, each lasting three years. The first phase comprises general studies and is common to the various modalities. The second phase is divided into three modalities: Academic, Vocational, and Arts. This way, knowledge in a variety of areas of the sciences and humanities can be deepened, or job skills can be honed, in order for the students to develop their life projects.

The training achieved by the graduates under the academic modality serves as a basis for accessing higher education. This modality will have two outputs:

  1. Humanities and Sciences
  2. Humanities and Modern Languages. The Vocational modality allows the students to obtain a general education and professional training, either to join different areas of productive activity and/or to further their studies. It is structured into Professional Families, according to skill levels and criteria of affinity with professional competence in the occupations and jobs considered. The Arts modality offers the opportunity to develop practical skills for working in professions and occupations in the field of the arts and/or to pursue specialized studies. It is structured according to the major areas of the Arts: Music, Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Applied Arts. It is important to clarify that this reform and restructuring of levels and cycles is still in process.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Higher education corresponds to the level of education that begins after the conclusion of secondary education, leading to a degree of Advanced Technician, at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. This level is managed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology (MESCyT).

SUBSYSTEMS OF THE DOMINICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM: These correspond to population groups with specific characteristics, needs and conditions:

  • The Special Education Subsystem is responsible for guiding the plans and programs from an inclusive education perspective, with a view to meet the special education needs of students and to provide necessary curricular adaptations, especially for children and youths who have disabilities or special characteristics.
  • The Youth and Adult Education Subsystem includes the following components:
    1. Literacy, aimed at overcoming illiteracy rates in the country.
    2. Basic Education, which provides training for people aged 14 and over, to facilitate their access to higher levels of literacy and training based on their basic learning needs.
    3. Secondary Education, with a curriculum adjusted to the needs and characteristics of the participating population. Lastly.
    4. Employment-oriented Technical Training, designed to offer alternatives to young and adult participants for the development of their employment and entrepreneurial skills, to integrate into productive work and to contribute to the development of their country.



During the 2012-2013 school year[2], the enrollment in the education system reached 2,690,713 students distributed as follows: 267,279 in the Initial Level; 1,636,342 in the Basic Level, and 574,574 in the Middle Level, in addition to 212,518 in the Subsystem of Education for Youth and Adult People.

Education for this population is offered through some 11,756 educational centers, distributed in three sectors: public, private, and semi-official, as follows: 1,970,261 in the public sector; 654,022 in the private sector and 66,430 in the semi-official sector [3]. 73.2% of the total number of students enrolled in the system are covered by the public sector.

Tiered data shows improvement in the Initial Level, high coverage in the Basic Level and low coverage in the Middle Level.

Relevant 2012-2013 data

Educational statistics: 2012-2013
Total student enrollment: 2,690,713
Percentage ratio of the number of students enrolled by level:
Public 73.22
Private 24.31
Semi-official 2.47
Number of Educational Centers 11,756
Number of Teachers 70,670

Source: Statistics and Educational Indicators Yearbook, Planning Department, MINERD

 Net coverage rate 2012-2013 by gender, by level

  Male Female
Elementary 43.0 45.0 44.0
Primary 93.9 91.3 92.6
High School 48.5 59.7 54.1

Note: Data calculated using National Office of Statistics population projections, revised in 2014.

[1] References: Elements for curricular review and update, of the Ministry of Education, 2014.
[2] Source: Department of Statistics, Planning, Ministry of Education, MINERD
[3] The semi-official sector refers to public centers because they are financed by the State, whose administration is run by Catholic Church organizations or by non-profit foundations.

Links of interest:


To better understand the Dominican educational outlook, to analyze the context and to collaborate in the decision making process, it is important to be familiar with the educational statistics. Below are some links that are relevant and which are updated regularly:


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