Education is highly valued in Argentinian
society. The Argentine National Council of Education sets a standard curriculum
that is followed by schools throughout the country, because it is believed
that a national education system promotes unity.
Kindergarten is optional for children aged four and five.
Mandatory education begins at age six and ends at fourteen. Public primary
schools are free, but there are no public school buses and students must
buy their own books and uniforms. The uniforms look like white laboratory
coats and are worn over regular clothes. Private schools are often sponsored
by churches or organizations and charge tuition fees. For children with
special needs, there are separate programs.
For some students, the school day begins at 8 a.m. and
ends at noon. Others attend school between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. When students
arrive, they raise the flag and sing the national anthem. During each session,
they get three breaks of 10 minutes each for recess. In rural areas, some
children go to school on horseback. Some large estancias have their own
one-room schoolhouse for children living on the ranch.
Unless students need to work full-time to help their families,
they may continue their education at secondary school. Those who want to
go to university must attend secondary school for at least five years and
take the bachillerato (baccalaureat) exam. Commercial and vocational schools
are available for those who want careers in commerce, agriculture, fashion
or technical occupations such as automotive mechanics.
Schoolteachers are trained in an escuela normal (teachers'
People who leave school to work may return when they
are in their twenties to finish their secondary school studies. Night classes
are also available for those who work during the day.
Argentina has about 50 universities. About half are public
and tuition is free. The others are Catholic or private universities that
charge fees. The University of Buenos Aires is the largest university in
South America, with 140,000 students. The oldest university in Argentina
is Córdoba, founded by the Spanish in 1613.
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