Education in Argentina

Education in Argentina

Education in Argentina, the so-called " "Latin American docta"" has a convoluted history. There was no effective educational plan until President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1868–1874) placed emphasis on bringing Argentina up-to-date with practices in developed countries. Sarmiento encouraged the immigration and settling of European educators and built schools and public libraries throughout the country, in a programme that finally doubled the enrollment of students during his term. In Argentina, Teacher's Day (on September 11) commemorates his death.


The first to mandating universal, compulsory, free and secular education (Law 1420 of Common Education) was sanctioned in 1884 during the rule of Julio Argentino Roca. The non-religious character of this system harmed the relations between the Argentine State and the Catholic Church, leading to resistance from the local clergy and a heated conflict with the Holy See (through the Papal Nuncio).

Religious education

Religious education was re-established in 1943, during the brief dictatorship of Pedro Pablo Ramírez. During the rule of Juan Domingo Perón (1945–1955), public education was used to further the president and his wife's personality cult (pictures of Perón and Evita were prominently displayed in them, pieces of their writings were used as reading materials, etc.). Perón first re-affirmed the religious education decree of 1943, and then, for political reasons, repealed it in 1954.

After the Revolución Libertadora (the military coup d'état of 1955) deposed Perón, all propaganda books were removed, and the very mention or depiction of Perón and Evita was forbidden. The ensuing weak constitutional governments and short-lived military regimes each employed censorship and propaganda in education after their own ideological biases.

While the economy has steadily recovered since 2002, most public educational institutions (schools and universities) are chronically underfunded, and often suffer disruptions due to teacher strikes. However, according to the UNESCO, Argentina has the best level of education of Latin America, and one of the best of the world.


In spite of its many problems, Argentina's higher education managed to reach worldwide levels of excellence in the sixties. The "Latin American docta" can claim three Nobel Prize winners in the sciences: Luis Federico Leloir, Bernardo Houssay and César Milstein the highest number in Latin America surpassing countries economically more developed and populated as Ireland or Spain.


Education in Argentina is divided in three phases. The first comprises grades first to ninth, and is called "Educación General Básica" or "EGB" (Castilian, "Basic General Education"). EGB is divided in three stages, called "ciclos" ("cycles"):

# EGB I: 1st, 2nd and 3rd school years
# EGB II: 4th, 5th and 6th school years
# EGB III: 7th, 8th and 9th school years

Once the EGB is completed, the student finishes the mandatory schooling period and can choose to start secondary education, called "Polimodal", which usually last two to three more years. EGB is mandatory to all students, although desertion is high in some parts of the country and laws intended to prevent this are rarely enforced.

The third stage is college education.

Primary education

Primary education comprises the first two EGB cycles (grades 1–6). Because of the system that was in place until 1995 (7 years of primary school plus 5 or 6 of secondary school), primary schools used to offer grades 1–7, although most are already converted to accept 8th and 9th, others chose to eliminate 7th grade altogether, forcing the students to complete the 3rd cycle in another institution.

econdary education

Secondary education in Argentina is called "Polimodal" ("polymodal", that is, having multiple modes), since it allows the student to choose his/her orientation. Polimodal is not yet obligatory but its completion is a requirement to enter colleges across the nation. Polimodal is usually 3 years of schooling, although some schools have a fourth year.

Conversely to what happened on primary schools, most secondary schools in Argentina contained grades 8th and 9th, plus Polimodal (old secondary) but then started converting to accept also 7th grade students, thus allowing them to keep their same classmates for the whole EGB III cycle.In December 2006 the Chamber of Deputies of the Argentine Congress approved a new National Education Law restoring the old system of primary followed by secondary education, making secondary education obligatory and a right, and increasing the length of compulsory education to 13 years. The government vowed to put the law in effect gradually, starting in 2007. []

College education

Argentina maintains a network of 39 , financed by the Ministry of Education and tuition-free, since 1946. Private and parochial universities are also abundant; but, their cost often reserves them only to more affluent students (see University reform in Argentina and List of Argentine universities). In all, over 1.2 million students attend institutions of higher learning in Argentina, annually (roughly 4 in 10 people of college age). [Encyclopedia Britannica, Book of the Year, Statistical Appendix: Argentina.]


External links

* [ Argentinian Government website for international students]
* [ Learning in Argentina]
* [ Ministry of Culture: Argentine Education]
* [ Statistics] and [ more statistics] about education in Argentina
* [ Ministerio de Educación, Ciencia y Tecnologia]
* [ National Commision for University Evaluation and Accreditation]
* [ Science and Education in Argentina]
* [ Argentine Higher Education Official Site]
* [ The Argentine Education System]

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