The education is free and compulsory between the ages of
7 and 14. After a six-year compulsory school, a four-year
continuing school or two-year vocational school follows.
Almost all children start, but many quit early to help with
the family's livelihood. Only a small proportion of young
people graduate from primary school. Teacher shortages and
large classes are common problems in the education system. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in Dominican Republic.
Higher education is given at several universities,
including Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, founded in
1538 as the first university in the New World. In 1993,
about 70,000 students were enrolled at the country's eight
Ana Patricia Fermín was subjected to police death threats
in 2014. Her husband and two others had been arrested by
Santo Domingo police in April and subjected to torture.
Fermín objected to the torture. In September, her husband
and the other two were abducted by police and subsequently
shot and killed. At the funeral, Fermín and 33 others were
arrested and threatened by police. In the first half of
2014, 87 people were killed by police. An increase of 13%
compared to the previous year. As in other Western
societies, the police in the Dominican Republic have
impunity for their attacks on the civilian population.
In December 2014, the President signed an abortion law
that, for the first time in the country's history, allowed
access to abortion when a pregnancy was a result of rape,
incest, when the pregnancy endangered the mother's life, or
when the child would not be able to survive. The law was a
partial victory for the country's women's groups, which has
led an intensive campaign for abortion. The conservative
right wing and both the Evangelical and Catholic Church, in
turn, threatened to bring in the Constitutional Court to
have it overturned. Although enacted, it was not enforced.
It was still the old total ban that was practiced.
In June 2015, the government party and major opposition
parties entered into an agreement to amend the constitution
so that the president could be re-elected once. A few days
later, President Medina announced his intention to run for
During the period January - September, members of the
security forces murdered 152 people. There was a 6% decline
over the same period last year, but still many. Throughout
2015, Parliament debated a bill on police reform, including
being able to put it to the brunt of the many murders, but
it never came to the passing of the law. At the same time,
the Supreme Court overturned judgments on police killers.