After the Sandinista takeover, a literacy campaign (with the help of 2,000 Cuban teachers) was launched in 1980. At the end of the campaign, the government claimed that the adult illiteracy rate, which was 50% in 1975, had been reduced to 13%. For the year 2000, the rate of adult illiteracy has been estimated at 35.7% (males, 35.8%; females, 35.6%). As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.2% of GDP.
Primary and secondary education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 13. In 1998, 783,002 pupils attended 7,224 primary schools. Also in 1998, 287,476 students were enrolled in secondary schools, with approximately 6,000 teachers. There were 34 pupils for every teacher at the primary level in 1999. In the same year, 79% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 33% of those eligible attended secondary school. In 1997, there were a total of 56,558 students enrolled in institutions of higher learning, with 3,840 teachers.
The National Autonomous University of Nicaragua offers instruction in 10 faculties: medicine, law and social sciences, dentistry, chemistry, and humanities in León; and agriculture, education, economics, physical and mathematical sciences, and humanities in Managua. The Central American University, affiliated with Georgetown University, opened in Managua in 1961, and the privately controlled Polytechnic University of Nicaragua, also in Managua, attained university status in 1977. Some others include the Central American Institute for Business Management, affiliated with the Harvard Business School; the University of Mobile, affiliated with Mobile College, Alabama; Nicaraguan Catholic University, and the National Engineering University. There were a total of 14 universities in Nicaragua in 1998.