Higher Education in the Dominican Republic: Access, Equity, and Opportunity

I attended an information session regarding Higher Education in the Dominican Republic: Access, Equity, and Opportunity. The Office of International Affairs hosted this non-international affairs scholars’ event in Enarson 100 on February 7, 2019 at 5:00 pm.

The Ohio State University recently launched a new education abroad program in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. “Landmarks, complex history, excellent cuisine and a much-celebrated baseball team” comprise the Dominican’s second largest city. The program involves an on-campus autumn semester class (Educational Studies: Counselor Education 5193) and a nine-day stay in the Dominican Republic over winter break. The Office of International Affairs provides a course description:

“Through classroom lectures and field trips to educational institutions, students will examine the Dominican Republic education system with special attention to the access and equity challenges experienced by Afro-Dominicans. Students will develop a basic understanding of how race, class, gender and geographic location impact educational, economic and socio-cultural opportunities for Afro-Dominicans.”

Limited access to education plagues all levels of the academic system that prohibit sufficient training opportunities for the labor force. Although the Dominican Republic has the largest economy in Central America and the Caribbean, education deficiencies halt further economic growth. This imbalance surfaces from inadequate spending in the education sector, scarce quantity of teachers and low quality of teacher education, delays in formation of secondary schools, and expansive management shortages. According to World Education News and Review, the greatest blemishes in the Dominican Republic’s education system are the “major inequalities in the provision of primary and secondary education.” These inequalities result in “high repetition rates at the secondary level and high drop-out rates in the tertiary sector among underprepared students.” Thus, the Dominican Republic needs to increase investment in the education department and explore multiple avenues to higher learning. Educational Studies: Counselor Education 5193 will examine these issues and possible solutions in more depth.

The information session introduced me to an educational abroad opportunity that combines academic credit with service learning. The inequality found within the Dominican Republic reminds me of Honduras. I visited Nuevo Paraiso, Honduras on a mission trip my senior year of high school. Within a one-hundred-mile radius, there is one school for grades kindergarten through twelve. Thus, the institution is highly selective and only thirty kids are accepted for each grade. If students desire to continue their education at university, then they must travel four hours each day to and from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Similar to the Dominican Republic, poor teacher training and instruction impairs the education system. Low wages, lack of updated academic materials, and lack of educational institutions also diminish the quality.

International organizations, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, strive to improve education systems worldwide because education is a fundamental human right; however, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization stress the importance of access matching quality. In the Dominican Republic and Honduras, education systems are severely lacking both access and quality. Although, students participating in the Dominican Republic program can begin to “[build] peace in the minds of men and women” (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

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