Education and Schools in Argentina
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Education is important in Argentina. The government is committed to providing every child with basic education. This has lead to Argentina having one of the highest literacy rates in South America.
The Argentinian National Council of Education sets a standard curriculum that is followed by schools throughout the country. There is an extensive public school system, with private and international schools found in the larger cities. Private religious institutions can also be found in small towns in Argentina.
Expats can take advantage of free education in Argentina, but children attending local schools will be taught in Spanish. English teachers can be a rarity, especially in the more rural areas. There is little in the way of support systems for expats who speak a different language, so parents should carefully consider just how difficult a challenge this will prove for their children.
In all schools, private or public, books and stationery are not provided.
Public schools in Argentina
Argentina has a system of mandatory education known as Educación General Básica (Basic General Education) and is divided into three stages.
EGB I: Grades 1 to 3
EGB II: Grades 4 to 6
EGB III: Grades 7 to 9
The starting age for mandatory schooling in Argentina is five.
Secondary education in Argentina is called Polimodal (meaning multiple modes). Students can, to a certain extent, choose their subjects.
Polimodal is usually three years, although some schools require four. This stage of schooling is a requirement if a student wishes to go on to higher education.
The Argentinian education system can be difficult for expats to come to terms with. The teaching style in public schools is largely outdated. Although free schooling is provided for all children, resources are stretched.
Public schools are underfunded and there is no physical education or anything akin to art or drama. To obtain education in these subjects, expat children would have to attend a private school or apply for one of the Centro Polivalente de Artes schools.
There is usually one of these in each large town. These schools tend to be oversubscribed because they offer art, ceramics, dance and music as well as the main subjects. Furthermore, because they fit in more subjects, the school day is a lot longer – usually 7.30am until 7pm in the evening.
The school year in Argentina starts in early March and finishes mid-December.
Private schools in Argentina
Private schools are predominantly found in larger cities in Argentina. Many of these private schools offer excellent bilingual programs and are often used to accommodating expat students. These are fee-paying schools which tend to be funded by the Catholic church.
Private schools still follow the Argentinian curriculum, although they do have more flexibility. If a student is in a bilingual program, their days are split between one language in the morning and the other language in the afternoon. This leads to a longer school day.
International schools in Argentina
There are also a number of international schools in Argentina, particularly in larger cities such as Cordoba and Buenos Aires. These schools are called colleges. They are generally private and a monthly fee is paid. Colleges follow international curricula, mostly the British, American or International Baccalaureate (IB). However, there are also schools that follow German, Japanese and French curricula.
Homeschooling in Argentina
There are no specific laws pertaining to homeschooling in Argentina. This leaves the practice a grey area. Nevertheless, there is a growing community of homeschoolers in the country, particularly in Buenos Aires. However, the government does not technically recognise homeschool education. Because of this, parents may have difficulties if they want to enroll their children back into the Argentinian schooling system or when applying for a spot at a university.
Tertiary education in Argentina
University education in Argentina is free for those attending state universities. Private universities charge tuition fees that vary depending on the institution. Argentinian universities have a high percentage of part-time students, as many students need to work to sustain themselves. Foreign students can apply to Argentine universities but will have to pay higher international fees and obtain a student visa.