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Education in Argentina

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The South American country Argentina is well-known for soccer legend Diego Maradona, famous author Jorge Luis Borges (from the book Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius) tango and beef.  The Spanish-speaking country of 44.49 million people comprises European immigrants and enjoys a high quality of life.

Argentina enjoys nearly 98% literacy levels¹ among Latin American countries as education is free at state schools from primary to university levels.  The Ministry of Education, based in the capital Buenos Aires, sets the basic guidelines and the national government, the provinces, federal district and private institutions share the responsibility of maintaining standards.

The Argentine school system begins with kindergarten but is not compulsory.  The system includes two options, with the first covering 6 years of primary school, beginning at age 6, and another 6 years in secondary school.  The second option comprises 7 years of primary school and 5 years secondary education.  Primary school is compulsory for everyone.

Secondary education is further divided into 2 levels: lower secondary provides secondary education and upper secondary prompts students to specialize.  Upon graduation, students can take an entrance exam for enrollment in one of Argentina’s 39 state universities.  Private universities may have additional admission requirements.  The top 5 universities include Universidad de Buenos Aires, private Catholic institutions Universidad Austral, Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina Santa María de los Buenos Aires (UCA), Universidad Austral and Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina Santa María de los Buenos Aires (UCA), private technical Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA) and Argentina’s oldest private educational institution Universidad de Belgrano.

The school year in Argentina lasts 200 days, starting from March and ending in December in its 23 provinces.  Schools are closed for national holidays, such as Good Friday and Easter, and two weeks in July for vacation. Public primary schools are in session four and a half hours on weekdays while extracurricular activities are held on Saturdays.  Students and teachers can choose either a morning or afternoon session. Bilingual programs are offered in many private primary schools.

The school week is from Monday to Friday and most schools divide their time in 2 sessions which run from 8: 15 am to 12:15 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:15 pm.  A child attends only one school session for the school week.   Different systems based on the geographic part of the country.  Many international schools offer full-day schooling known as doble escolaridad with hours from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  The school hours are different from American schools with an average 6 ½ hours and Chinese school hours running from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm with a 2-hour lunch break.

Students can attend Additional Education Centers (Centros Educativos Compllementarios) free of charge and start after 4:30 pm.  The activities on offer include foreign languages, music, art and swimming.

Rural education in Argentina has had a boost in recent years as the Ministry of Education has worked through Rural Education Improvement project (PROMER) with an investment of US$ 150 million to increase infrastructure, teacher training and new equipment.    Students in these areas face long distances, varying weather conditions and isolation, all of which affect academic performance, motivation, high repetition rates and in the long run, dropout rates.   PROMER has helped to address these problems and as a result of increased training, more teachers became available and further expanded rural students’ education from the initial level to the basic secondary school.

Argentina offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma through 57 schools.  Buenos Aires comprises many schools for various foreigners including the French, German, Italian, Japanese and English-speaking communities.  There is the Italian school “Scuola Italiana Cristofero Colombo”, the Japanese school “Asociacion Cultural y Educativa Japonesa”, the German “Colegio Pestalozzi and Goethe Schule”, The French “Lycée Franco-Argentin Jean Mermoz” and English schools “Saint Matthew’s College North, Northlands, Saint Andre’s Scots and Buenos Aires International Christian Academy”.

School-age population by education level











Compulsory education lasts 14 years from age 4 to age 17 (UNESCO).