However, more worrying is the dropout rate for secondary school students. Education is only compulsory until the age of 14 and just 10% of students go on to graduate from secondary school. The Ministry of Education, responsible for public schools, does however appear to be trying to improve the quality of education by creating new classrooms and reducing class sizes; they have allegedly invested RD$6.8 billion this year (2013) alone.
The education system in the Dominican Republic is divided into 3 sections:
Locally known as Nivel Inicial, pre-school in the Dominican Republic is from the age of three to the age of six. However, only the final year is compulsory.
Standard education in the country is called Nivel Basico for children aged 6 - 14 years old. It is compulsory for all children but this is not strictly enforced.
The Nivel Medio for students aged 14-18 is not mandatory and therefore the number of children who participate is worryingly low. At the end of studying students are awarded a Bachillerato, equivalent to a high school diploma, which allows students to pursue further education at university or college.
There are plans in place to improve the quality of teaching by relating rate of pay for teachers to performance, but this is yet to be comprehensively implemented.
There are, however, plentiful alternatives to the public school system. The number of parents sending their children to private school continues to increase, even among the less privileged, as they endeavour to provide a quality education for their children. There are private schools, religious schools and foreign language schools in the Dominican Republic. Teaching in English can easily be found in Santo Domingo, and outside of the capital there are schools in La Romana, Santiago, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.