The Ministry of Education provides for public education at the elementary, secondary, and higher education levels. Public elementary schools provide eight years of compulsory education to students ages 6–14. A high school entrance examination is given to all eighth graders in order to determine the 300 or so students who will be admitted into the two public high schools each year. During the 1994–95 school year, a combined total of 15,755 students were enrolled in the Marshall Islands' 115 public and non-public primary and secondary schools. Fifty-one percent of all students were male, and 49% were female. The public schools employed a total of 512 teachers while non-public institutions employed 297 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was estimated at 15 to 1 in 1999. For students who are admitted to high school, a comprehensive four-year program of secondary education provides instruction in general studies, college preparatory courses, and vocational training.
Higher education is provided through formal programs of teacher training and the provision of grants for university training abroad. In 1986, approximately 160 students received financial assistance for foreign training. The Majuro campus of the College of Micronesia opened its School of Nursing and Science Center in 1986. In 1991, the Marshall Islands campus separated from the College of Micronesia system and became accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC). On 1 April 1993, the College of the Marshall Islands was established as an independent institution with its own Board of Regents. In 1994–95, approximately 1,149 students were enrolled at the college, with 42 teaching staff members.