Education in Argentina

Education in state institutions is free at the initial, primary, secondary and tertiary levels and in the undergraduate university level (not for graduate programs). Private education is paid, although in some cases (especially in primary and secondary schools) state subsidies to support its costs. According to studies by UNESCO, education in Argentina and Uruguay guarantee equality to have institutional features that hinder the commercialization of education, as well as Finland has characteristics that favor multiethnic population education and special education, education favors Argentina equality. According to the last census, the illiteracy rate is 1.9%, the second lowest in Latin America. In the last decade, Argentina has created nine new universities, while the outflow of university students increased by 68%.

Education is a responsibility shared by the national government, the provinces and federal district and private institutions, though basic guidelines have historically been set by the Ministry of Education . Closely associated in Argentina with President Domingo Sarmiento's assertion that "the sovereign should be educated" ("sovereign" referring to the people), education has been extended nearly universally and its maintenance remains central to political and cultural debate. Even though education at all levels, including universities, has always been free, there is a large number of private schools and universities.


President Domingo F. Sarmiento, father of the Argentine Education System.

The education in Argentina known as the Latin American docta has had a convoluted history.[1] There was no effective education plan until President Domingo 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 national laws mandating universal, compulsory, free and secular education (Law 1420 of Common Education) were sanctioned in 1884 during the administration of President Julio Roca. The non-religious character of this system, which forbade parochial schools from issuing official degrees directly but only through a public university, 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).

Sarmiento Teachers' College: President Domingo Sarmiento established the first of these Escuelas Normales

Following the university reform of 1918, Argentine education, especially at university level, became more independent of the government, as well as the influential Catholic Church. The church began to re-emerge in country's secular education system during the administration Juan Perón, when in 1947, catechism was reintroduced in public schools, and parochial institutions began again receiving subsidies. A sudden reversal in the policy in 1954 helped lead to Perón's violent overthrow, after which his earlier, pro-clerical policies were reinstated by General Pedro Aramburu. Aramburu's Law 6403 of 1955, which advanced private education generally, and parochial, or more often, Catholic-run schools (those staffed with lay teachers), in particular, helped lead to the establishment of the Argentine Catholic University.[2]

The program of deregulation and privatization pursued by President Carlos Menem in reaction to the country's socio-economic crisis of 1989 led to the decentralization of the Argentine secondary school system, whereby, from 1992 onward, the schools' administration and funding became a provincial responsibility. The policy's weakness, however, lay in that federal revenue sharing did not increase accordingly, particularly given the decision to shift two primary school years to the secondary system.[3]

Real government spending on education increased steadily from the return of democratic rule in 1983 (with the exception of the crises in 1989 and 2002) and, in 2007, totaled over US$14 billion.[4]


In spite of its many problems, Argentina's higher education managed to reach worldwide levels of excellence in the 1960s. Up to 2013 Argentina educated five Nobel Prize winners, three in the sciences: Luis Federico Leloir, Bernardo Houssay and César Milstein and two in peace: Carlos Saavedra Lamas and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the highest number in Latin America surpassing countries economically more developed and populated as Ireland or Spain.[5][6][7] In addition, as of 2010, Argentines are the only Latin Americans to have ever been honoured with a Rolf Schock Prize.[8]

The Argentine population at large benefits from a relatively high level of educational attainment, by regional standards. Among those age 20 and over, the highest level attained, per the 2010 Census, was distributed thus:

No formal
% 11.216% 25.401% 13.745% 20.109% 1.776% 5.890% 3.710% 6.395%



Education in Argentina has four levels and two different systems: initial level (kindergarten, educación inicial), primary level (educación primaria), secondary level (educación secundaria) and tertiary level (educación superior).[10]

In Buenos Aires province, primary level is called educación primaria or EP (Spanish, "primary education") and comprises grades first to sixth (called years). Secondary level, called educación secundaria or ES, comprises grades first to sixth (also called years). EP and ES are divided in two stages, called ciclos ("cycles"):

  1. EP: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th school years
  2. ES 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th (Only in some provinces) school years

In the rest of the country EP comprises grades first to seventh (the traditional system, established by Argentine law 1420/1884). ES comprises grades first to fifth (the traditional system, in use throughout the 20th century).

In both systems EP is mandatory to all students, as well as secondary education, according to the National Educational Law established in 2011.

The fourth stage is tertiary education, which includes both college and university education.

Education is funded by tax payers at all levels except for the majority of graduate studies. There are many private school institutions in the primary, secondary and university levels. Around 11.4 million people were enrolled in formal education of some kind in 2005:

Level Schools Teachers 1 Students
Initial 16,298 79,721 1,324,529
Primary 22,196 289,898 4,683,963
Secondary 22,080 133,225 3,372,411
Vocational 1,870 15,747 509,134
Universities 85 117,359 1,527,310

1 excludes 185,776 teachers not classified by level


Qualification Modes of Grading

In the Latin American docta the scale to grade up the academic performance in students at the primary and secondary school rest in the 1-10 ladder as is described in the following frame.

Evaluative Qualifications
Rate/s Type
10 Outstanding, Excellent
9 and 8 Highly Satisfactory
7 and 6 Satisfactory
5 and 4 Unsatisfactory
3, 2, 1 Fail

In the University System however the scale can vary depending on the independent policies and statutes of grading of each independent Argentine University.

Primary education

The ubiquitous white uniform of Argentine school children is a national symbol of learning.
Secondary School in the pampas city of Bragado. Argentina's secondary schools belong to a provincial system.

Accepted between ages 6 and 14. Primary education s the first EP cycles (grades 1–6). Because of the system that was in place during 1995-2007, most schools that offered 7 years of primary school prior to 1995 were forced to be converted and accept grades 8th and 9th, while others chose to eliminate 7th grade altogether, forcing students to complete the 3rd cycle in another institution.

Secondary education

Secondary education in Argentina comprises two levels. Years 1st to 3rd are common to all schools (Ciclo básico). Years 4th to 6th are organized in orientations (Ciclo orientado) such as Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Arts, Sport, Design, etc. An additional year is offered in certain schools (Technical-Professional schools), which grants a professional title, also with orientations (agriculture, electricity, mechanics, construction).

In many provinces the secondary education system is still divided in three traditional large groups, "Bachiller" schools (very similar to grammar schools with a huge emphasis on humanistic studies), "Comercial" schools (focusing on economic sciences and everything related to it) and "Escuelas Técnicas" (with a focus on technical and scientific assignments, this one having the particularity of lasting six years instead of five, it used to be called "Industrial") each one subdivided in more specific orientations related to its main branch.

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 12 years. The transitional period ended in 2011.

In addition an adult system of high schools (usually called Acelerados, Spanish for accelerated) exists in order to guarantee secondary education to people over 18. Normally it consists in 1 or 2 years of intensive program of study and it is provided by a large number of public and private schools varying on each province. Night shift is available in order to satisfy those who work during the day. These high school diplomas are accepted to enroll in a university.

Argentina's network of vocational schools, many under the auspices of the National Technological University (UTN), have historically given students viable alternatives, as well.

International education

As of January 2015, the International Schools Consultancy (ISC)[12] listed Argentina as having 160 international schools.[13] ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and is international in its orientation."[13] This definition is used by publications including The Economist.[14]

Higher Education in Argentina

Argentine higher education system is based, since its conception during the colonial period, on the old and dogmatic Spanish higher education system, which is basically a Continental education system (opposed to the Anglo-Saxon Model). A historic event took place in the Reforma Universitaria de 1918, a highly-popular series of reforms that took place in the oldest university of the Country, the Universidad de Córdoba that finally paved the way to the modernization of the Argentinian higher university systems as it is known nowadays. Since its foundation, it was focused on the teaching of Professions offering Professional degrees.

It is divided in three levels .


One important aspect is that Public universities at Tertiary Education level and at University level are tuition-free and open to anyone. Although it is not required to pay any kind of fee at universities, hidden costs of education, like transportation and materials, are often neglected and a lack of a well-developed and widespread scholarship system makes it hard for students from low-income families to enroll in public universities: for each eight students from the 20% upper-income class, there is only one student from the 20% lower-income class.[15] In contrast, post-graduate education requires some form of funding and it is generally not free.

Additionally, financial pressure to freshman college students force them to join the work force before graduation, thus it is very common for young students to have full-time jobs and at the same time study at the University. This is considered beneficial because when the students graduate they already have working experience, though this could also be one of the causes of the high ratio of dropouts.[15][16]

College education

The University of Buenos Aires Law School.

Argentina maintains a network of 39 National universities, financed by the Ministry of Education since 1946. Private and parochial universities are also abundant, numbering 46 among the active institutions and they enroll about a sixth of the collegiate student body (see University reform in Argentina and List of universities in Argentina).[11] Summing up, over 1.5 million students attend institutions of higher learning in Argentina, annually (roughly half the population of college age).[17]

Argentina does not have a standard and common system of examination after high school, thus admission to universities is strictly defined by each university. Moreover, a steady degradation in primary and secondary education created a huge difference between the required level to enter a university and the level achieved by the high school students. Some universities like University of Buenos Aires cope with this issue by creating a 1-year shared program called CBC that students need to complete in order to join the university.[18]

Graduate School

The doctoral fields of study in Argentina are generally research-oriented doctoral studies, leading mostly to the awarding of the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Science, Doctor of Medicine, and Doctor of Law, among others. Enrollment in doctorate programs in Argentina is available to candidates having earned a Licentiate, Professorships Engineer's degree or Master's degree in a related area of study.[19][20]

Doctoral fields of study mostly pertain to one of five fields of knowledge: Applied Sciences, Basic Sciences, Health Sciences, Human Sciences and Social Sciences. The doctoral studies offered by the Argentine universities include multiple fields and do have national and international validity of the degrees granted.[21][22]

Academic regulations governing doctorates, and their corresponding fields, in Argentina prescribe that all graduate courses must be accredited by the National Commission for University Evaluation and Accreditation. This entity stands as a public and decentralized body working under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education, Science and Technology. It administers the process of evaluation and accreditation for all doctorate programs, and is responsible for the institutional evaluation of all such programs at a national level.[23] Graduate programs, including the Doctorados (PhDs), set standards per guidelines set forth by the Ministry of Science and Technology,[24] together with the Universities Council.

Additionally, external evaluations of the doctoral programs are carried out by the National Commission for University Evaluation and Accreditation, or private entities created to that effect, together with the participation of academic peers. Argentine institutions of higher education provide further accreditation by international establishments to many of their courses of studies.[25]


Public universities

Private universities

See also


  1. Latino, Rosa María (March 2010), "Familia Infancia y Genero" (PDF), La travesía de la libertad ante el Bicentenario, X Seminario Argentino-Chileno, IV Congreso Interoceanico de Estudios Latinoamericanos., Mendoza, Argentina, Simposio 10: 9, ISBN 978-987-9441-40-4
  2. Esti Rein, Mónica. Politics and education in Argentina, 1946-1962. M.E. Sharpe, 1998.
  3. Delgado, Marta. Descentralización Educativa: entre una vieja utopía y la cautela (Spanish)
  4. Economy Ministry: National budget
  5. Secretary of Academic Policies
  6. Science and Education in Argentina
  7. Argentine Higher Education Official Site
  8. Rolf Schockpristagare
  9. INDEC (2010 Census): Población de 20 años o más por máximo nivel de instrucción alcanzado
  11. 1 2 INDEC: sistema educativo
  13. 1 2
  15. 1 2 "Realidad y propuestas para la Universidad Argentina", Alieto Aldo Guadagni, Academia Nacional de Educación
  17. Encyclopædia Britannica, Book of the Year. Statistical Appendix: Argentina.
  19. Doctorate Engine Seeker - CONEAU by Areas Disciplinarias
  20. Doctorates in Argentina
  21. Disciplinary Election in the Argentine University System Secretary of Academic Policies
  22. Postgraduate Career Guide Secretary of Academic Policies
  23. National Commission for University Evaluation and Accreditation
  24. Ministry of Science and Technology
  25. External evaluation — CONEAU

External links

Devoto Public Library, Buenos Aires. Argentines enjoy a network of over 1500 public libraries, besides private ones and bookshops.
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