Education and Training in Colombia, 1940s to 1960s

  • Aline Helg
Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


In 1940 Colombian education offered a varied picture. Although enrolment had increased at all levels compared to 1920, access to education hardly kept pace with demographic growth.1 A major improvement was registered in the literacy rate, which rose from 32 per cent of the population over fifteen years of age in 1918 to 56 per cent in 1938. But in 1940 as in 1920, only one-third of children of school age attended primary school, and the majority of these for only the first two grades. Only 6 per cent entered secondary schools (colegios) and very few (perhaps 1 per cent) received vocational schooling. Under 3000 students were enrolled in the universities.2 In practice, only the sons and daughters of the upper and middle classes studied beyond the second or third grade. Vocational training was very limited: industrial schools pursued moral rather than technical goals, and agricultural training was almost nonexistent. In the rural areas, very little schooling was available. Disparities between the countryside and the cities were exacerbated by regional economic imbalances, because the financing of primary education was mainly the responsibility of departmental government. The highest rates of literacy and of school provision were found in the most prosperous and urbanized departments, namely Cundinamarca, Antioquia, Valle, and Atlántico.


Vocational Training Primary Education Catholic Church Public Secondary School Coffee Grower 
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  1. 5.
    See, for example, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (Lauchlin Currie, dir.), The Basis for a Development Program for Colombia: Report of a Mission (Washington, DC 1950)Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Christopher Abel and Colin M. Lewis 1993

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  • Aline Helg

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