In 1993, there were 87,882 pupils in primary schools. Secondary schools had 16,511 pupils and 2,487 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was estimated at 17 to 1 in 1999. Education is compulsory and free for all children ages 6 through 16. While primary education lasts for six years, secondary education has two phases—four years followed by three years. Free primary education is offered by the government and by Roman Catholic and Protestant mission schools. The official school language is Dutch. The adult illiteracy rate for the year 2000 was estimated at 5.8% (males, 4.1%; females, 7.4%). As of 1995, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.6% of GDP.
Higher education is provided by five teacher-training colleges, five technical schools, and the University of Suriname, with its Law School and a Medical Science Institute. In 1990, all higher-level institutions reported 495 teaching staff with 4,319 students enrolled. Higher education is free of charge to citizens.