Education in Nicaragua

Despite significant progress, such as the reduction to 5% of the adult population’s illiteracy rate and the increase of net primary enrollment rates, Nicaragua faces various challenges in the education sector. These include a high number of out-of-school children, especially in rural areas, low levels of student learning outcomes in regional assessments (which are linked to poor preparation of primary school teachers and insufficient learning materials), and low quality of preschool education, particularly among disadvantaged rural households. Adequate baseline data and solid statistics continue to be a problem imposing difficulties in planning as well as in monitoring the sector.

Nicaragua’s strategic education plan includes interventions focused on expanding access to preschool education, universal completion of six grades of primary education, and universal access to lower secondary education (grades 7-9). Institutional strengthening is another transversal priority of the education plan.

The objectives of Nicaragua’s strategic education plan are to:

  1. Promote access and equity by:
    • Accelerating progress in achieving quality universal primary and secondary education, and ensuring a gradual increase in the percentage of students entering, completing and advancing to the next grade.
    • Increasing the participation of boys and girls in early childhood education, with the participation of the educational community and families in early childhood activities that promote adequate youth development.
    • Reducing illiteracy as much as possible and increasing levels of school completion.
  2. Promote a quality education by:
    • Improving the level of student achievement in order to successfully promote personal, family and community development, as well as strengthen national identity.
  3. Strengthen sector management by:
    • Ensuring human and institutional development that promotes efficient and effective educational management.

Blogs and news

Children and teacher raise their hands. Malawi Primary School. Credit: GPE/Tara O'Connell
January 10, 2019
As we start 2019, we share some of our New Year’s resolutions to ensure more children are in school and learning.
5-year-old Karen attends the Guardabarranco School in Acoyapa, Nicaragua.   Nicaragua, March 2017 Credit: GPE/Carolina Valenzuela
March 21, 2017
In Nicaragua, newly constructed preschools, resembling the outside of a castle, combined with new learning materials and improved teacher training have created a stimulating atmosphere for children,...
Credit: GPE/Carolina Valenzuela
March 24, 2017
Photo story: See the impact of a GPE-funded program that, together with funding from other donors, is making a big difference in improving access to early childhood education and its quality in...

Latest grant

Three-year-old Lauri attends Ruben Dario preschool in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

CREDIT: GPE/Carolina Valenzuela
Development objective: increase access to preschool education in selected municipalities, and to improve preschool education learning conditions nationwide.
Grant agent:IBRD

Nicaragua is using the US$16.7 million GPE grant together with US$1.7 million from its own resources, US$33.39 million from the European Union, and US$15.80 million from the World Bank to finance the education sector strategy support project.

The main objectives of this project are to increase access to preschool and lower secondary education in participating municipalities and improve preschool learning conditions and education quality as well as completion of lower secondary education nationwide.

The education sector strategy support project has three components:

  1. Increase access and improve learning conditions of preschool education in 43 out of 153 municipalities where poverty levels are highest, key education indicators are the worst, and there is significant unmet demand. This will be achieved by:
    • Improving / expanding preschool education infrastructure (200 preschools)
    • Developing a unified curriculum that covers the three levels of preschool education; aligning classroom learning instruments; and developing a preschool teacher training curriculum
    • Training for pre-service and in-service preschool teachers
    • Improving the supply of learning materials
    • Developing an early childhood development assessment instrument and an early childhood environment rating scale.
  2. Improve access, quality and completion of lower secondary education by:
    • Improving / expanding lower secondary education infrastructure
    • Improving teacher effectiveness
    • Improving the supply of textbooks and learning materials
  3. Build institutional capacity of the ministry of education by:
    • Supporting capacity building needs of four general directorates of preschool education, secondary education, teacher training, and school infrastructure in the ministry of education
    • Supporting the ministry in the administration, financial management, auditing and procurement aspects of the project

The local education group in Nicaragua is comprised of the government and development partners. The grant agent is the World Bank and USAID is currently the coordinating agency.

Source: World Bank - Education Sector Strategy Support Project. April 2013.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent  
Program implementation 2013-2017 16,700,000 16,700,000 IBRD Completion report
2006-2010 17,000,000 17,000,000 IBRD Completion report
2004-2005 7,000,000 7,000,000 IBRD Completion report
Sector plan development 2015 500,000 419,516 IBRD Completion report
  TOTAL 41,200,000 41,119,516    

Education sector progress

The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Nicaragua. For detailed results from GPE funding, please look for progress reports in the Grants section.


Primary completion rate (%)

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)

Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained (%)

Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.

Last updated September 26, 2018