Preschool, primary and secondary education are compulsory and free of charge for children aged 5–17 years. Family contributions to education account for 35 per cent of total spending on primary education and 37 per cent of total spending on secondary education.
The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for Paraguay’s education system at the compulsory levels. Education is provided through public institutions (86.2 per cent of education provision, serving 77.5 per cent of students), private institutions (8.4 per cent of education provision, serving 13.4 per cent of students) and subsidized private institutions that offer educational services in at-risk areas, for which the State subsidizes teachers’ wages (5.4 per cent of education provision, serving 9.1 per cent of students). Compulsory public education is primarily financed by the following funds:
Central government funds (actual budget): Distributed to public education institutions that provide compulsory education. The total actual budget in 2016 was USD 923.2 million (PYG 6.01 trillion), i.e. 91 per cent of public spending on education. These funds cover teacher and administrative staff salaries, basic services, school kits, the free school meals feeding programme and the gratuidad resources. The gratuidad is an amount of money that is allocated per student and goes directly to the schools to finance running costs such as cleaning, basic materials and capital. The amount depends on the type, educational level, mode of education offered and school infrastructure needs. The annual amount allocated per student for the gratuidad is USD 3.10 (PYG 19,800). In 2017, spending on the gratuidad accounted for 0.89 per cent of Ministry of Education and Science expenditure.
Fondo Nacional de Inversión Pública y Desarrollo [National Fund for Public Investment and Development – FONACIDE]: This fund is administered by the departmental governments and municipalities. It was introduced in response to the negative impact on the communities caused by the construction of the Itaipú and Yacyretá hydroelectric plants. In Paraguay there are five departments and 69 municipalities affected that receive money from this fund. It represented about 7.2 per cent of total public spending.
Fondo para la Excelencia de la Educación y la Investigación [Fund for Educational and Research Excellence – FEEI] – 30 per cent of the National Fund for Public Investment and Development: This fund is administered by the central government and civil society representatives, under the supervision of a governing board. The money is earmarked for investments in information technology, teacher training, school infrastructure, educational quality assessment, comprehensive early childhood care, school cooperation networks, higher education scholarships, and research and development. It accounts for 1 per cent, i.e. USD 6.12 million (PYG 39.9 billion) of total public spending on education.
Transfers to departments and municipalities – 25 per cent of the National Fund for Public Investment and Development. Transferred funds are administered by departmental and municipal governments to finance school infrastructure (50 per cent), school lunches (30 per cent) and public investment and development projects (20 per cent). In 2016, transfers totalled USD 61,116 (PYG 390 million).
In 2016, public spending on education was USD 1.07 billion (PYG 6.8 trillion), representing 21.3 per cent of total public spending and 3.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). The school-age population is 2.6 million and in 2012, public spending on primary education was USD 1,092 per student (14.7 per cent) for students in grades 1–6 and USD 1,251 (16.8 per cent) for students in secondary school grades 1–3.
Paraguay allocates 8.3 per cent of its education budget to school meals for children in early years education and cycles 1 and 2 of primary education in public schools, especially children in schools serving vulnerable populations and indigenous people, and in areas with the highest incidence of poverty and where children have the highest levels of malnutrition, dropout and educational lag. At least 86,870 students, i.e. 3.2 per cent of the school-age population, benefited from this programme. In 2015, the programme served 59 per cent of children enrolled in the first grade and 85 per cent of children in the second grade of primary education. Of these children, one in five came from households located in the highest income quintiles.
Implemented by the Ministry of Education. In 2016, scholarships were awarded to 9,890 students (i.e. 0.38 per cent of the school-age population) from secondary and higher education institutions, totalling USD 2.2 million (PYG 14 billion), i.e. 0.2 per cent of the education budget.
Higher Education Scholarships or Youth Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded to economically disadvantaged students who do not have a degree or other scholarships. They are awarded to students in the degree programmes most closely linked to national development plans and policies. Scholarship distribution prioritizes the departments with the highest percentage of population living in extreme poverty based on the Social Action Secretariat’s geographic prioritization index and the Ministry of Education’s secondary school completion rate in each department. The USD 322 (PYG 2 million) scholarship is split into two payments during the school year.
This monthly conditional cash transfer programme is aimed at families in extreme poverty with working children aged under 14 years. The education requirement is that children are enrolled in an approved school, have regular school attendance of 75 per cent and complete the school year. The transfer is USD 5.80 and USD 98.00 (PYG 35.6 million–550 million per family). In 2016, the programme reached 2,038 households (0.17 per cent of the population) and invested USD 6.9 million (PYG 39.3 billion), i.e. 0.02 per cent of GDP.
This is a fortnightly conditional cash transfer programme aimed at families living in situations of poverty or vulnerability, with disabilities, and who come from indigenous communities. The education requirement is that children aged 6–18 years (up to four children per family) are enrolled in school and have regular school attendance of 85 per cent and that adults are enrolled in programmes