School and Education in Nicaragua


The 1979 Sandini Revolution meant a new orientation of the country’s education with a stronger focus on self-determination and national identity as well as connection with productive work. Under the influence of i.e. Cuba launched adult education programs to address illiteracy.

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The school structure consists of a primary school of 6 years followed by a secondary school of 3 plus 3 years, which can be completed with a bachelor, a kind of student degree that qualifies for admission to university. The dropout rate, especially in primary school, amounts to almost half. For adults, after a short introduction of a year 3 or 4-year training courses, which is directly linked to the work experience of the person concerned, is arranged. The attempts to eradicate illiteracy, which was still around 34% in the mid-1990s, through special “crusades” are a feature of Nicaragua’s educational system.

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Nicaragua Country Flag

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1990 FSLN loses election

FSLN nominated incumbent President Daniel Ortega as its candidate in the election. The opposition formed a coalition of 14 parties called the Unión Nacional Opositora (National Opposition Union, UNO). As a candidate, they drafted Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who was the murdered Pedro Joaquín Chamorro’s widow.

All election polls gave the Sandinists victory by a wide margin, but in the February 25, 1990 elections, Nicaragua’s history took a sharp turn. UNO won the election by 55% of the vote against the FSLN’s 41%. Violeta de Chamorro was the new president. Ortega acknowledged the defeat and promised to hand over power.

Prior to the transfer of power on April 25, the President and the FSLN signed a “transitional protocol” stating that the existing constitution should be respected, the institutions and social achievements of the revolution respected and the “contrails” disarmed. Chamorro announced that she personally assumed the post of Secretary of Defense and retained the Sandinist General Humberto Ortega as the commander-in-chief of the army. At the same time, she immediately abolished the mandatory military service.

UN Vice President Virgilio Godoy now accused Violeta de Chamorro of betraying pre-election agreements by retaining Humberto Ortega in his post, and he therefore withdrew from the government along with part of the coalition.

In May 1990, strikes broke out among state employees for a 200% pay rise. The government responded by declaring the strike illegal, repealing the law of civil servants and the land reform law of the Sandinists. The workers now radicalized the struggle that spread to the whole country. A week later, the government agreed to partially meet the demands of the strikes, and the strike was canceled.

From the middle of 1990, the government received offers from several international consortia interested in implementing projects in the northern part of the country in a 270,000 hectare rainforest area. The projects ranged from the construction of toxic waste disposal sites from North America to the utilization of the area’s fisheries, mining and forest resources.

At the same time, it emerged that secret negotiations had been held between the authorities and a Taiwanese company on the right to exploit the area’s forest resources. On the same occasion, it was revealed that in the area there were significant reserves of gold, silver, copper, molybdenum and Central America’s largest deposits of calcium carbonate, which is an important raw material in the manufacture of cement.

In 1991, President Chamorro signed an agreement with the FSLN on the recognition of land reform and a guarantee to transfer at least 25% of the shares to workers in the companies the government now wants to privatize.