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.
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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 universities.
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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.
Dominican Republic flag source: Countryaah.com
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 2016.
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.