The school obligation covers ten years,
divided into a preschool year and nine years of
compulsory school. Then follows two years of high school
or vocational school. Compulsory school has been free of
charge since 2012. The proportion of children and young
people who attend school has increased at all levels,
but the quality of education is sometimes low.
The abolition of fees and cash grants to families has
contributed to several children attending school. The
proportion of preschool children more than doubled
between 2007 and 2013, to just over 40 percent. It is
still lower than the average in the region, but almost
everyone is now entering the compulsory preschool year.
Country facts of Colombia, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
Children should start first grade at age six, but
many will start later. Colombia also has more children
attending a class than any other of the 70 countries
included in the OECD's so-called Pisa surveys: in 2015,
four of ten 15-year-olds had passed at least one class.
At the same time, over 70 percent of 15-year-olds lack
basic writing and numeracy skills, even though most of
them are still enrolled in school.
There are major differences between the city and the
countryside - the children in the cities spend more
years in school than those living in the countryside.
Many of the rural teachers are also poorly educated.
School days are short and the resource shortage is
great, sometimes money is missing for teachers'
salaries. The students pay for their books.
There are over 100 universities in Colombia, both
state and private. Higher education programs are subject
to fees, but the state offers favorable loan terms for
studies. Nevertheless, it is mainly affluent Colombians,
and to some extent the middle class, who can afford to
give their children higher education. The most important
university is the State Universidad Nacional de Colombia
which was founded in 1867. It is headquartered in Bogotá
but also has campus in several other parts of the
- Searchforpublicschools: Offers schooling information of Colombia in each level - compulsory, technical and higher education programs.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
91.3 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
94.7 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
15.3 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
15.3 percent (2017)
Amnesty for Farc is approved
Congress adopts a law that gives the Farcrebeller amnesty, in accordance with
the peace treaty.
Legislative fast-track is approved
13th of December
The Constitutional Court gives green light to changed rules in the
legislative work, so that the peace agreement can be applied as soon as
possible. This applies not least to an amnesty for the Farc rebels when they put
down weapons. The judges vote with the numbers 8-1 for the proposal.
Congress signs the peace agreement
The new agreement is approved in both the House of Representatives and the
Senate by a large majority, after the senators belonging to Uribe's party CD
left the hall in protest before the vote. The new agreement clarifies to some
extent what can be expected of the special court to try ex-rebels accused of,
for example, war crimes and drug trafficking, but no prison sentence is required
for those who admit war crimes. It was a demand from the opposition, but the
government has said that such a writing had prompted Farc to leave the
Sentenced for presidential candidate murder
Former head of the former intelligence service DAS (see October 2011),
Miguel Maza Márquez, sentenced to 30 years in prison for involvement in the
assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán in 1989. Galán was a
big favorite for the 1990 election when he was shot dead in the midst of an
election a member of the Medellín cartel. Maza is convicted of "murder with
terrorist intent" as he must have cooperated with the drug cartels who opposed
Galán's demand that drug dealers be extradited to the United States (see also
Modern History). The man who shot Galán was arrested in 1992 and a political
rival was sentenced in 2007 to 24 years in prison for arranging the murder. Maza
has been detained for three years and the trial has been going on for over a
A new peace agreement is signed
The government and Farc sign the revised agreement, which is then submitted
to Congress for approval. The ceremony is held in a theater in Bogotá and is
significantly smaller than the previous one, on September 26. The opposition
under the leadership of Uribe believes that the changes made to the agreement
are only cosmetic and that the guerrilla members are still too lenient.
Increased violence threatens the peace process
New outbreaks of violence that are feared constitute attempts to sabotage the
peace process raise great concern. The perpetrators are believed to belong to
groups with roots in the right militia that were formally disarmed in the 00s.
Groups that work for social and human rights are particularly vulnerable. OAS
has recently reported murders of 33 leaders for such organizations just this
year. Another three have been murdered in recent days, and two have been
seriously injured in what are described as politically motivated attacks.
Urabeños members arrested
Police say they have arrested 22 members of the criminal league, which Santos
has called one of the state's biggest enemies. Two of the arrested persons must
be highly regarded persons within Urabeños. According to the police, they have
been guilty of blackmail, murder and forced recruitment of minors. The group
controls large parts of the drug trade to the US and Russia and is suspected of
planning an expansion from its base area on the Gulf of Urabá near the Panama
A new peace agreement is presented
The government and Farc announce that they have a new peace agreement ready.
The revised peace plan includes clarifications and proposals from the opposition
and social groups, among other things, it says. Congress will have to decide on
the new agreement, which will not, however, be the subject of a referendum.
Uribe says the proposed changes are not enough.
The UN maintains its commitment
Despite the backlash in the referendum, the Security Council decides to stick
to the plans for a UN operation with around 400 observers, of which 152 are
already in place. UN chief Ban Ki-Moon has argued that the effort is more
important than ever.
ELN calls are postponed
Santos announces, with just a few hours' notice, that talks which, according
to a statement on October 10, would start in Ecuador's capital Quito are
postponed. The government has made it clear that the talks cannot start until
the guerrillas release former Congressman Odín Sánchez, who let himself be
captured in exchange for his brother (see April 2016). Sánchez is believed to be
the last person held hostage by ELN since three other prisoners were released at
the beginning of the month.
The ceasefire is extended
Santos extends the truce to the end of the year. The ceasefire that expired
with the referendum had already been extended to last October.
Santos gets the Nobel Prize
President Santos receives the Nobel Peace Prize for the peace agreement he
drafted and signed with the Farcgerilla, despite the Colombians rejecting it in
the referendum. The prize will be a strong mandate for Santos to continue the
peace process. Santos also announces that he intends to donate the prize money,
SEK 8 million, to the victims of the conflict.
Santos is trying to save the deal
The president appoints a group of high-ranking government representatives to
hold discussions with the opposition, in an attempt to salvage the agreement
with Farc. Uribe does not participate in the meeting itself, but appoints three
negotiators to participate in the talks. Uribe has demanded that guerrilla
members who have committed serious crimes be sentenced to prison and that some
Farc leaders should be banned from participating in politics.
The referendum results in no to the peace agreement
Voters vote by a marginal margin against the peace agreement that the
government has concluded with Farc and which has been applauded throughout the
world. Both Santos and the guerrillas say they will still continue to work for
peace. The vote figures will be 50.2 against 49.8 percent; The profit margin is
only 57,000 votes. The turnout is 37 percent.
Farc intends to pay damages
The guerrillas say in a statement that they will replace victims of the war.
In the past, Farc has said it lacks funds for any disbursements, as all money
should have gone to finance the fighting. Farc now states that it should report
money and other assets to the authorities.
ELN releases kidnapped
The guerrillas hand over a civilian to the representatives of the ICRC. The
guerrillas also say they want to start formal discussions with the government
and "look for solutions". The statement comes a day after the government called
on the ELN to release people holding guerrillas hostage.
The peace agreement is signed
Santos and Farc leader Timochenko sign the settlement, thereby formally
setting the point for the 52-year-long armed conflict. The participants in the
ceremony held in the port city of Cartagena are all dressed in white, as a
symbol of peace. The guests include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 17 heads
of state mainly from Latin America and 25 foreign ministers, including the US's
John Kerry, and 200 relatives of victims of the conflict. Timochenko, who is
speaking for the first time on TV, expressly apologizes to all victims.
Farc votes for the peace treaty
The Marxist rebels unanimously adopt the peace treaty at the conclusion of
its 10th national conference held in El Caguán, the guerrilla's stronghold in
the southeast. Around 500 members attend the conference, which is monitored by
400 journalists from all over the world. Only one Farc faction, called the First
Front, opposes the peace treaty parts. The first front is believed to consist of
around 200 people and be involved in drug smuggling.
Farc hands over child soldiers
The guerrilla hands over a first group of eight children who, according to
the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC), must undergo physical and mental
examinations before being taken to temporary reception centers. Eventually one
should try to bring the children back to their families. Farc claims to have 21
children under 15 as soldiers.
Resolution on referendum
Both chambers of Congress vote to hold the referendum on October 2, according
to the president's proposal. The question becomes: "Do you support the final
agreement to end the conflict and build a stable and lasting peace?"
Armistice comes into force
Santos and Farc Leader Londoño give the military and the rebels orders for a
permanent cease-fire from midnight, the night of August 29. This is essentially
a symbolic step when a cease-fire already exists, but it is considered a
historic step not least as the permanent ceasefire was expected only after the
peace agreement was signed.
Historical peace agreement clear
The government and Farc announce in Havana that they have reached an
agreement, after almost four years of negotiations. According to the agreement,
23 "concentration zones" will be set up where Farcs will gather around 6,800
rebels in the countryside and 8,500 urban members, so that the UN can monitor
the ceasefire and demobilization.
Mining clearing starts
Colombia launches what is said to be the largest mining brigade in the world.
It will have 5,000 employees by the end of the year and twice as many as of
2017. According to an estimate, 10,000 Colombians have been killed or injured by
landmines since 1990. Colombia is one of the countries with the most mines in
the terrain; only in Afghanistan and Cambodia do more mini-accidents occur.
Cocaine factories destroyed
The security forces are said to have destroyed 104 cocaine production
facilities, where around 100 tonnes of cocaine a year have been produced. The
efforts in the southeast, in areas previously controlled by Farc, form part of a
new strategy aimed at producers and smugglers rather than poor farmers who grow
Farc ends 'tax collection'
The "revolutionary tax" that has been demanded for decades by residents and
companies in areas controlled by guerrillas should no longer be collected.
UN observers on site
The first observers to supervise the Farcrebeller's disarmament come to
Colombia. There are 23 observers from Latin American countries. In total, the
observer group will amount to 450. Already, there are about 20 civilian UN
representatives in the country.
Settlement of ceasefire
The government and Farc state in a joint statement that they have agreed to
lay down weapons, and on how the disarmament should go. The hope is now that a
peace agreement will be signed on July 20.
Kidnapping delays ELN calls
President Santos tweeted that the peace talks will not be held until the
guerrillas promise to stop kidnapping, and release anyone held hostage. The
message comes after three journalists were released after a short week. The
guerrillas say they regret that the three journalists were abducted, in
Catatumbo in the northeast.
Agreement on child soldiers
15th of May
The government states that a settlement has been reached with Farc that child
soldiers should be treated as war victims and not held responsible for any
crimes. Farc has agreed to identify those involved and help hand them over so
that they can be returned to their families. How many children are involved is
Record drug seizure
15th of May
Police have found nearly eight tons of cocaine on a banana plantation in the
coastal town of Turbo. Three members of the Úsuga clan must have been arrested.
The Úsuga clan (also called Los Urabeños) is one of three criminal organizations
that the military, under a new strategy, fights, among other things, through
Bacrim becomes GAO
The government renames the criminal gang previously called "bacrim" (see
March 2013) to Organized Armed Groups, GAO. The armed gangs
still pose a major security threat.
Same-sex marriage becomes legal
Colombia is the fourth country in South America (after Uruguay, Argentina and
Brazil) to legalize same-sex marriage.
Santos reforms government
President Santos announces that he will make major changes to the government
with a view to making it better suited to govern after a peace agreement is
signed. The government will have a broader regional support and representatives
from more political directions. When Santos presents his new government,
however, it appears that the heaviest ministers remain.
ELN releases ex-governor
The guerrillas release Patrocinio Sánchez Montes de Oca, former governor of
Chocó, who has been held captive since 2013.
Mass protest against the peace talks
Tens of thousands are participating in over 20 cities in protests that former
president Uribe is behind.
Peace talks start with ELN
Negotiators for both the government and the guerrillas announce that formal
negotiations are now underway. The message is given in Venezuela's capital
Caracas, where informal talks have been held. The parties have agreed on an
agenda with six points. The talks will start in Ecuador but will probably be
conducted in Brazil and Chile.
The peace agreement postponed
A deadline that the parties previously set for March 23 expires without any
agreement being made. However, both have made it clear that the negotiations
will continue and the hopes are that an agreement will be clear during the year.
Álvaro Uribe's brother arrested
The ex-president's brother Santiago is suspected to have been behind a death
patrol that should have carried away and murdered leftist rebels, drug addicts
and criminals in Antioquia in the 1990s.
Electricity and water a right
The Constitutional Court states that access to electricity and water are
fundamental rights that precede the rights of electricity and water companies.
The ruling is based on a case of an unemployed four-year-old mother who could
not pay her bills, but also applies to hospitals, prisons and schools.
Farc stops recruiting minors
The guerrilla announces that it is now raising the age limit for new recruits
to 18 years (see also February 2015). The army has estimated
that almost half of Farc's members are recruited as minors.
Mining in a fragile environment is prohibited
The Constitutional Court finds that the extraction of oil and gold in the
ecosystems called páramos, grassy and shrubby areas 3,000-5,000 meters above sea
level can cause irreparable damage. During the rainy season, water is stored in
the soil, which then becomes an important source of water during the dry season.
The verdict results in a setback for mining companies that have previously been
cleared to continue using issued licenses.
Warnings of consequences of the zika virus
In a drastic call from the Health Minister on January 20, the government has
abstained from pregnancies, due to the rapid spread of the mosquito-borne zika
virus. Zika is feared to cause microcephaly, a birth defect where the brain does
not develop normally. Now, the authorities also warn that zika may be behind a
sharp increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a neurological disease that
causes paralysis symptoms and can be fatal. In a few weeks, the number of zika
infected with GBS in Colombia has gone from 15 cases to several hundred, the
Minister of Health said.
The UN promises observer power
The UN Security Council says yes to Colombia's request for unarmed observers
once a peace agreement has been signed, primarily from Latin America and the
Caribbean. The mandate will be for one year but can be extended if both parties
so wish. The request was made public by both parties in the negotiations on
Farce soldiers are released
Sixteen Farc soldiers are released in response to the unilateral ceasefire
Farc has held since July, according to the government that already in November
promised to pardon 30 Farc members. One condition is that the prisoners promise
not to reconnect with the guerrillas.
Ex-Colonel convicted of extrajudicial executions
Former Army Colonel Robinson González del Rio is found guilty of 31 murders
committed between 2006 and 2009 in Antioquia, under the so-called "false
positive scandal". He is the highest ranking military so far convicted of
involvement in the scandal which is estimated to have claimed around 3,000
innocent people's lives. The government's demands for military success in the
war on guerrillas and a developed reward system paved the way for these crimes.
Stricter penalty scale for acid attacks
President Santos signs a new law that tightens the penalty for acid attacks,
so that perpetrators should be sentenced to between 12 and 50 years in prison.
Such attacks, which are found mainly in Asia, have become common in Colombia
over the past decade. About a hundred people, mainly women, are subjected to
corrosive acid each year which can cause severe deformities.