Belize - Education
Although government statistics claim a 93% literacy rate, the adult illiteracy rate estimated by UNESCO stood at 29.7% in 1995. Primary education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of five and 14 and includes eight grade levels. Secondary education covers four years and consists of either a general course of study or classes at a vocational or trade school. Most schools are church-affiliated but still supported by the government. In 1995, there were 51,377 pupils in 277 primary schools, with 1,976 teachers. There were 10,272 students and 758 teachers in secondary schools that same year. In 1995, it was estimated that 97% of school age children were enrolled in primary school. Approximately 36% of children (male, 33%; female, 39%) were enrolled in secondary school. In 1999 the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools was 23 to 1.
Belize's first university, the University College of Belize, was opened in 1986. The University of the West Indies maintains a School for Continuing Education (SCE) in Belize. There are also several colleges providing specialized training such as the Belize Technical College; the Belize Teachers' College; Belize College of Agriculture; and the Belize Vocational Training Center. There are also two special schools maintained by the government for children with mental and physical disabilities.
In 1996, 19.5% of central government expenditure was allocated to education.