STRUCTURE OF EDUCATION SYSTEM IN COLOMBIA
Public education in Colombia is free and compulsory for students attending Primary Studies (Básica Primaria), which consists of five years, from first to fifth grade. Classes begin in February and finish in November. Students usually begin primary when they are six years of age, and finish it at 10 years of age.
Secondary Studies (Básica Secundaria) are not free and consist of six years, from sixth grade to eleventh grade. Classes begin in January and finish in November.
During the eleventh grade, students apply for the ICFES test, similar to the SAT test, which is needed to apply for superior studies.
Public schools students in Colombia usually attend for only half a day because there are so many kids and so very few schools and teachers. The school day is divided in two, having one set of kids attend in the morning from7:00 to 12:00 and one set in the afternoon from 13:00 to 18:00; this structure is tantamount to having two schools in the same facility.
Most students of public schools are from low income families and cannot afford superior studies. Such students can choose a free course in the SENA (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) or study in educative corporations (corporaciones educativas) which offer very few titles of universities, and technical degrees. There are only a few public universities where students can get an education for free or very little money.
Grades are based on a scale of zero to 10, with a passing grade of usually five.