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.
Did you know?
The Nobel prizes have been awarded to five Argentinians: Carlos Saavedra
Lamas (1936) and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980) for peace, Bernardo Houssay (1947) for medicine,
Luis Federico Leloir (1970) for chemistry and César Milstein (1984) for biology.
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' college).
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.