For the year 2000, projected adult illiteracy rates stood at 6.7%, (males, 5.6%; females, 7.8%). Elementary education is compulsory and free between the ages of 7 and 14 (ages 9 and 14 in rural areas). Primary education lasts for six years followed by secondary education in two phases of three years each. In 1997 there were 905,813 students in primary schools. In that same year, there were 327,775 students and approximately 18,000 teachers at the secondary level. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was estimated at 20 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, 92% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 45% of those eligible attended secondary school.
The National University of Paraguay is located in Asunción, the capital city. Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Catholic University, a private institution, was founded in 1960. Total university and higher institution enrollment in 1996 was 42,302 students. Approximately 19.8% of the central government budget was allocated to education in the latter half of the 1990s. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at4.5% of GDP.