Secondary education is divided into basic secondary education
and pre-university secondary education. At the end of basic secondary
education, pupils can choose between pre-university education and technical
and professional education. Those who complete pre-university education
are awarded the Bachillerato. Technical training leads to two levels of
qualification - skilled worker and middle-level technician. Successful
completion of this cycle gives access to the technological institutes.
Higher education is provided by universities, higher institutes,
higher pedagogical institutes, centers of higher eduacation and higher
polytechnic institutes. All institutions of higher education are public.
The Ministerio de Educación Superior (MES) is responsible for policy
in matters of undergraduate and postgraduate education. It controls teaching,
methodology, courses and programmes and the allocation of student places,
as well as the specialization courses offered by centres of higher education
which come under the control of other ministries. All institutions have
the same status.
Post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):
Technical/vocational studies are provided in Institutos superior politécnicos.
Studies last for two-and-a-half to three years.
University level studies
The first and main stage of higher education usually lasts for four or
five years. In Medicine, studies last for five or six years.. Courses
that are offered to workers usually last longer than traditional courses.
At the end of the first stage, students are awarded a Licenciatura or
a Título profesional (professional diploma). Professional titles
are awarded in all fields.
University level second stage: Diplomado, Maestría, Especialista:
Diplomado courses have three levels, each requiring some 200 hours of
theoretical instruction, practical work, industrial internship and a final
project. Students can gain academic credit towards completion of a Master's
degree and are allowed to work on a Master's thesis as they progress through
Diplomado studies. The second stage corresponds to a period of in-depth
study and research which leads to the Maestría after two years.
In Medicine, the first stage is usually followed by a course of professional
specialization leading to a specific specialization. Especialista programs
are designed for people in industry.
University level third stage: Candidato a Doctor en Ciencias:
Three to four year programs lead to the Candidato a Doctor en Ciencias.
This qualification is required for entry to studies for the Doctor en
University level fourth stage: Doctor en Ciencias
The Doctor en Ciencias is awarded following additional years of scientific
research. The thesis has to be defended before a jury, and once approval
is forthcoming, it's then published in academic journals.
Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers
A five-year course is provided for elementary or special-education teachers
in Institutos Superiores Pedagógicos. They obtain the Licenciado
en Educación Primaria or other types of degrees.
Training of secondary school teachers
Secondary school teachers are trained in Institutos Superiores Pedagógicos
which offer five-year courses to qualify students for basic secondary
and upper secondary teachers' certificates. They are conferred a Licenciatura
en Educación. Admission to these courses is based on the Bachillerato.
Training of higher education teachers
Higher education teachers are offered specialized upgrading courses in
the subjects they teach as well as teacher training courses. Many teachers
are professionals from the production field. They also receive teacher
training. Where teachers are specially selected graduate students, as
has mostly been the case in the last ten years, they receive initial teacher
training simultaneously with their studies.
Distance higher education
Non-formal studies are offered in many centers of higher education which
provide courses for workers in addition to their traditional full-time
courses. Candidates must have completed secondary school, have at least
one year's work experience, be between 25 and 35 years of age and pass
an entrance examination. These studies are offered as evening or correspondence
courses (week-ends) and generally last six years. There are also 'guided'
or free courses open to all secondary school or higher education graduates.