Education in Puerto Rico

Education in Puerto Rico

Education in Puerto Rico is divided in three levels — Primary (elementary school grades 1-6), Secondary (intermediate and high school grades 7-12), and Higher Level (undergraduate and graduate studies). As of 2002, the literacy rate of the Puerto Rican population was 94.1%; by gender, it was 93.9% for males and 94.4% for females. [ [ CIA FactBook] ] According to the 2000 Census, 60.0% of the population attained a high school degree or higher level of education, and 18.3% has a bachelor's degree or higher. This ranks as worst and 6th worst, respectively, among US states, where the national averages are 80.4% and 24.4%. [ [ Census 2000 Educational Attainment Data] ]

Primary and Secondary Level Instruction

Instruction at the primary school level is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 18 and is enforced by the state. At this and the secondary school levels, students in Puerto Rico may attend either public or private schools. As of 1999, there were 1532 public schools and 569 private schools in the island.Fact|date=February 2007

Public Schools

The Constitution of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico grants the right to an education to every citizen on the island. To this end, public schools in Puerto Rico provide free and non-sectarian education at the elementary and secondary levels.

The public school system is funded by the state and is operated by the Puerto Rico Department of Education ("Departamento de Educación del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico") [] . The department employs over 45 thousand teachers of which 32,000 have full-time tenureships and are organized under the independent union Teachers' Federation of Puerto Rico. The remaining teachers are either temporary or contracted on a yearly basis.

Unlike most schools in the United States, public school instruction in Puerto Rico is conducted entirely in Spanish. English is taught as a second language but is a compulsory subject at all levels. In the early years following the 1898 American occupation of the island, the opposite was true: public schooling was entirely conducted in English and Spanish was treated as a special subject (the practice ended in 1915).

Public schools in Puerto Rico are subject to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.


*The Department of Education in 2005 had a deficit of (US$364 million). [ [ Punto muerto entre el DE y el sindicato] "El Nuevo" accessed on July 19, icon]
*In a recent scandal, Victor Fajardo, a former Secretary of the Department of Education was found guilty of stealing federal funds for financing political campaigns.Fact|date=February 2007
*Dropout Rate is as high as 40%. [ [ Census 2000 Educational Attainment Data] ]

Private Schools

Private schools in Puerto Rico are operated by non-governmental institutions.Fact|date=January 2008 Accredited elementary and secondary private schools in Puerto Rico must meet minimum public education requirements for academic work (P.R. Laws Ann. Tit. 18, § 57).Dropout Rate: 40%Fact|date=January 2008


Homeschooling, an alternative form of education, is legal in Puerto Rico but is neither regulated nor legislated. Recently two regulatory bills concerning homeschooling were presented in the legislature but did not pass. Fact|date=June 2007 Another one (HR#2754 - July '06) was subsequently tabled by the House of Representatives for future reconsideration. Fact|date=June 2007

The issue of legislation has caused a serious rift within the homeschooling community. While some of these parents want the government to establish a public policy on homeschooling, others oppose all forms of legislation. The parents that advocate homeschooling legislation claim that the lack of public policy has caused them to face unfounded accusations of educational neglect from an ignorant public. Fact|date=June 2007 They also allege that the lack of regulation has led them to confront difficulties when interacting with the government, as evidenced in the case of a homeschooled student who was denied federal Social Security benefits. Fact|date=June 2007

From the Applicable Law portion of the decision:

Student benefits are payable if the student meets the Federal standards for full-time attendance (FTA) (RS 00205.300C.); "'the law of the State in which the home school is located recognizes home school as an educational institution (El); the home school the student attends meets the requirements of State law in which the home school is located"'; and the student meets all the other requirements for benefits.

Education is compulsory in Puerto Rico between the ages of six and eighteen years. 3L.P.R.A. §391 (a).Attendance in public elementary and secondary schools is compulsory for students except for those students attending "schools established under non-govemmental auspices." Puerto Rico Constitution, Article II §5; 18 L.P.R.A. §2.

After careful consideration of all the evidence, the undersigned Administrative Law Judge concludes the claimant did not attend "'a sanctioned home school program approved by the Puerto Rican legislature"' within the meaning of the Social Security Act from December 1, 2003 to August 1,2004.

Academic Institutions

High Schools

* List of high schools in Puerto Rico

Accredited Colleges and Universities

The largest public university in Puerto Rico is the multi-campus University of Puerto Rico. The largest private university systems on the island are the Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez which operates the Universidad del Turabo, Metropolitan University and Universidad del Este; the multi-campus Interamerican University; the Pontificial Catholic University; Caribbean University; Carlos Albizu University; and the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.

Puerto Rico has over 50 institutions of higher learning.

Community Colleges & Technical Institutes

* Instituto de Banca y Comercio
* [ Ponce Paramedical College]


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