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Educational System in Colombia

The one tip that you hear expats living in Colombia repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to Colombia. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that Colombia is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in Colombia.
|-Educational System in Colombia

Colombia, a country known for its rich culture and history, also boasts a comprehensive and diverse educational system. The Colombian government places a high emphasis on education, making it compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 15. The system is divided into several stages, each designed to cater to the developmental needs of students at different ages. This guide aims to provide expats with a detailed overview of the Colombian educational system, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, and the availability of public bilingual and private schools.

What are the main stages of education in Colombia?

The Colombian educational system is divided into four main stages: Preescolar (Preschool), Básica Primaria (Primary School), Básica Secundaria (Secondary School), and Media (High School). Each stage focuses on different areas of a child’s development and learning.

Preescolar (Preschool)

Preescolar is the first stage of education in Colombia, catering to children between the ages of 3 and 5. This stage focuses on the child’s overall development, including cognitive, physical, and social skills. It is not mandatory but highly recommended to prepare children for the next stage of education.

Básica Primaria (Primary School)

Básica Primaria, or Primary School, is for children aged 6 to 10. This stage is compulsory and focuses on basic literacy, numeracy, and social studies. Children also begin learning English as a second language at this stage.

Básica Secundaria (Secondary School)

Básica Secundaria, or Secondary School, is for students aged 11 to 15. This stage continues to build on the foundational knowledge gained in primary school, with a greater emphasis on academic subjects such as mathematics, science, and social studies.

Media (High School)

Media, or High School, is the final stage of compulsory education in Colombia, catering to students aged 16 to 18. This stage prepares students for university studies or vocational training, with a focus on advanced academic subjects and career guidance.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

To enroll a child in a Colombian school, expats must provide a birth certificate, proof of residence, and immunization records. If the child has previously attended school in another country, academic records or transcripts may also be required. It’s recommended to contact the school directly for specific enrollment procedures.

Can children still learning Spanish enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning Spanish can enroll in public schools in Colombia. However, it’s important to note that the medium of instruction in most public schools is Spanish. Some schools may offer additional language support for non-Spanish speaking students.

Are there public bilingual schools?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in Colombia, particularly in major cities like Bogotá and Medellín. These schools offer instruction in both Spanish and English, making them a popular choice for expat families. Admission procedures vary by school, so it’s best to contact the school directly for information.

What types of private schools are common in Colombia?

Private schools in Colombia are diverse, ranging from Catholic and other religious schools to international and bilingual schools. International schools often follow a curriculum from another country, such as the U.S. or U.K., and offer instruction in English. Bilingual schools provide instruction in both Spanish and English.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Many expats in Colombia opt for private schools, particularly international or bilingual schools, due to the language of instruction and the familiarity of the curriculum. However, the choice between public and private school depends on individual family needs and circumstances.

How expensive are Private schools in Colombia?

The cost of private schools in Colombia varies widely, depending on the type of school and its location. International schools tend to be the most expensive, with tuition fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 per year. Other private schools may charge significantly less.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in Colombia?

Yes, homeschooling is legal in Colombia. However, it’s not as common as in some other countries, and resources may be limited. Families choosing to homeschool must follow the Colombian curriculum and may need to register with the Ministry of Education.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in Colombia?

Yes, online schooling is an option in Colombia, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both public and private schools offer online learning options. However, it’s important to ensure that the online school is accredited and meets Colombian educational standards.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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