Primary education, which lasts for eight years, is compulsory and free of charge. Secondary education lasts for another four years and students have the option of choosing either a general education or a technical studies track. The academic year runs from March to December. The language of instruction is Spanish.
In 2001, about 46% of all children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 95% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 71% of age-eligible students. Most students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 24:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 24:1.
Bolivia has about 10 state-funded and 23 private universities. The University of San Andrés (founded in 1930) in La Paz is Bolivia's largest university; the University of San Francisco Xavier in Sucre, dating from 1624, is one of the oldest universities in Latin America. In 2003, it was estimated that about 39% of age-eligible students were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 86.5%, with 92.9% for males and 80.4% for females.
As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 6.3% of GDP, or 19.7% of total government expenditures.