For the year 2000, the estimated adult illiteracy rate stood at 16.2% (males, 16%; females, 16.3%). The foremost educational objective in recent years has been the enrollment of the entire population in the 5–14 age range. Nine years of education is compulsory. Primary education lasts for eight years followed by four years of secondary education.
In 1997 there were 1,360,044 students enrolled in primary schools. In 1998 secondary school enrollment numbered 329,944 students, with approximately 13,000 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 54 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, 91% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 40% of those eligible attended secondary school. Teacher training has been expanded dramatically with aid from UNESCO, UNICEF, and other agencies.
The state-run Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, founded in 1538 and the oldest in the hemisphere, has suffered from a lack of resources. There are four private universities, one technological institute, four colleges, and seven schools of art and music. In 1997, about 176,995 students were enrolled in the university and higher level institutions, with 9,041 teachers. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 2.2% of GDP.