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The six-year compulsory school is free of charge. Students start school at the age of seven. In 2009/2010, nine out of ten children started primary school, but just under half went on to the next five-year stage. The proportion attending school has increased since the Sandinian government, which took office in 2007, abolished the fees for school food and textbooks and abandoned the requirement for school uniforms.

After the 1979 revolution, the Sandinists succeeded in increasing literacy through a large literacy campaign, but after that the literacy increased again. When the Sandinists returned to power, a new campaign, "Yo puedo" (I can), was carried out following the Cuban model. Because of this, illiteracy dropped from 21 percent in 2007 to just under 4 percent in 2009, according to official figures. In 2012, however, the UN Commission estimated Cepal that 30 percent of the population could not read and write.

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According to human rights organizations and teachers' unions, the Sandinian government controls education in a political party. Over 3,000 teachers must have been laid off since 2006 and replaced with government-loyal teachers (see also Labor Market). State grants have joined the children and children of FSLN members in the party's youth movement. In several schools, students have had to attend government-friendly meetings and FSLN-friendly material has been used in teaching.

There are nine universities, four of which are state. There are also many other higher education institutions, most of them private.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

97.0 percent (2010)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

30 (2010)

Reading and writing skills

78.0 percent (2005)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

17.9 percent (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

17.9 percent (2016)



Costa Rica gets right in the border dispute

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) grants Costa Rica the right to the disputed area of ​​the San Juan River, based on an agreement of 1858. Nicaragua is criticized for violating Costa Rica's right to use the river for transportation. Managua accepts the outcome.


Cubans are closed off at the border

Border guards use tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent hundreds of Cuban migrants from entering Costa Rica. The Cubans have made their way via Ecuador, where they can travel without a visa, and through Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica on their way north towards the United States. But Nicaragua refuses to let in the Cubans, which soon causes a crisis in relations with neighboring countries in the south.


Mining protests lead to unrest

Police are dispatched to regain control of the El Limón mine in León, where hundreds of miners are protesting after three workmates have been dismissed for violating internal rules. After a few weeks of unrest, the mine was temporarily closed and the following day a police officer was killed and some 30 people injured in the riots that ensued. The opposition and human rights groups speak of police presence as "a siege".


Football leaders are prosecuted

The former head of Nicaragua's football association, Julio Rocha, is being prosecuted in his home country for money laundering and corruption. He is one of seven high-ranking members of the Fifa international union arrested in Switzerland in May, in an acclaimed strike that US prosecutors were behind. Rocha is in custody in Switzerland and will primarily be extradited to the United States.


Opposition party threatens with boycott

The leading opposition party PLI threatens to boycott the elections in November 2016 unless the government guarantees that it is carried out under free conditions and with full transparency in the process.


Protest march against canal building

Thousands of protesters, mainly peasants, gather in the city of Juigalpa to protest the construction of a canal through the country (see June 2013), because of the feared environmental degradation and land expropriation. In December, a demonstration was held in Managua, also in protest against expropriation of land.



The duct construction is officially started

The construction of a canal through the country (see June 2013) begins with a ceremony, although the excavation work itself is not expected to start until 2016.


FSLN wins local elections on the Atlantic coast

The Sandinist Party's strong position is confirmed in elections to the two autonomous regions on the Atlantic coast, with 52 percent of the vote in the north and 48 percent in the south (see Political system). In the north, the Yatama Miskito Party gets 21 percent and the South 7 percent, while PLC gets 19 percent in both regions. Yatama claims that cheating has occurred and ends his cooperation with FSLN at the national level after the election.


Basic amendments abolish the ban on re-election

The National Assembly finally voted in favor of a constitutional change which meant that the restrictions on the re-election of the president were abolished. This means that Ortega can run for a fourth term in the 2016 presidential election (see also October 2009 and Political system). The constitutional reform also includes the abolition of the former requirement of at least 35 percent of the vote for victory in a first round of presidential elections, and that high-ranking military should be able to obtain public office without ending in the military.



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