Public education is free and compulsory from 4 to 12 years and includes special education.
The Ministry of Education establishes the rules and coordination mechanisms for public and private schools. Public schools can accept voluntary contributions from families and the private sector (families spend USD 680 per primary school student per year) and private schools can be subsidized by the state if they are not for profit and if they comply with the Ministry of Education’s coverage and quality strategies. In 2019, USD 46.8 million (4.7 per cent of the education budget) was transferred to the private sector.
Transfers from the Ministry of Education to the schools are made through the school governing board, the Catholic School Educational Council (CECE), the Institutional Educational Council (CIE) and the Community Associations for Education (ACE).
The number of students and the type of school board are taken into account when allocating basic education resources (USD 13–USD 53). Schools also receive USD 75 for each special education student and USD 8 for each student in a CECE school that does not offer free education.
Secondary education follows the same criteria for resource allocation, except in national schools. In this case, schools managed by the school governing board receive USD 9, those with distance education receive USD 12 and those managed by the CECE receive USD 8. Schools with three teachers or fewer receive an annual amount of up to USD 1,500.
In 2017, the education budget accounted for 3.75 per cent of GDP and 15.63 per cent of total public spending.
In 2019, more than half of the education budget was allocated to basic education (52 per cent), compared with 9.2 per cent to secondary education and 7 per cent to preschool education. El Salvador’s school-age population totals 2.4 million.
This programme aims to achieve equity in access, retention and learning for public school students with special needs or who are at social risk. Its subprogrammes include the accelerated education initiative and the implementation of resource centres for students with disabilities. In 2018, the government invested USD 423,000 in the programme and benefited 3,004 students – 0.12 per cent of the school-age population.
This is a Ministry of Education programme that aims to provide learning opportunities for those outside the education system through literacy and flexible education programmes. In 2019, the government invested USD 1.3 million (0.13 per cent of the education budget) in this programme, benefiting 86,213 people.
This is a Ministry of Education initiative that aims to strengthen governance of the school system to focus on student outcomes and optimize the use of classroom space and human resources. In 2019, the programme budget was USD 190,730 (0.01 per cent of the education budget) and it was implemented in 539 schools.
These scholarships are implemented by the Ministry of Education with resources from the privatization of the National Telecommunications Administration (ANTEL). Some are aimed at low-income students at the University of El Salvador and top students with limited economic status. The scholarship is worth USD 3,000–USD 25,000 per year. In 2017, the programme allocated USD 1.2 million (0.12 per cent of the education budget) to scholarships and 371 scholarships were awarded in 2018.
This programme aims to help young people with limited economic resources to study technical degrees. Their per-capita family income must be below twice the current minimum wage in the trade sector. The scholarship amounts are transferred to universities, which then waive educational costs for certain students. In 2018, USD 5.5 million (0.5 per cent of the education budget) was invested and 6,675 scholarships were awarded.
This is a conditional cash transfer programme implemented by the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency and the Social Investment Fund for Local Development. The programme was created in 2005 and is aimed at extremely poor families with children under 21 years old and / or pregnant women living in municipalities with "severe" extreme poverty or in urban slums. USD 15–USD is transferred bimonthly. Children aged 5–15 years in rural areas and those aged 6–15 years in urban areas must be enrolled and maintain an attendance record to receive the education bonus. In 2016, USD 48.6 million (0.18 per cent of GDP) was invested in the programme, benefiting 102,106 people (1.16 per cent of the population) in 377,325 households.