Information about Argentina
Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is in the Southern Cone. With a mainland area of 2,791,810 km2 (INDEC), Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the fourth largest in the Americas and the second in South America after Brazil. It is the largest Spanish-speaking nation. The State is subdivided into 23 provinces, and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires, which is the capital city. Both the provinces and the capital have their own constitutions but exist under a federal system. Provinces regulate their education systems under national agreements produced by the Federal Education Council.
Argentina’s Basic Data
- Area: 3,761,274 km2 of which 2,791,810 km2 are part of the American Continent and 969,464 km2 of the Antarctic Continent and southern islands
- Division: 23 provinces and 1 federal district
- Population: 40,117,096 (according to 2010 Census), 44,938,712 (2019 estimate)
- Urban population: 91% (according to 2010 Census)
- School-age population (3–17 years old): 24.6% (2016 estimate)
- Indigenous people descendants: 2.3% (according to 2010 Census)
Source: INDEC, www.indec.gob.ar and the document “Principales cifras del Sistema educativo nacional”, DiNIEE, Ministerio de Educación y Deportes, May, 2017
Argentina has a long tradition in education due to the rather quick organization and expansion of its national educational system between the last decades of the nineteenth century and mid-twentieth.
With a central administration origin, it was configured since the first Education Law in 1884, which established compulsory free secular primary education. Even though secondary education did not have any specific regulation until 1993, it was also organised during the last decades of the 19th century with the creation of colegios nacionales (national high schools) all around the country. Other offers such as Teacher Training schools and Industrial and Commercial schools followed later on.
Enrollment had a continuous growth all along the 20th century with periods of particular increase in the 1950s and the 1980s. The absence of any specific legislation that regulated secondary school together with the evolution of enrollment especially at that level led to the passing of a new Education Law in the 1990s and a series of reforms which altered the traditional structure of the system. However, failures in the implementation of these reforms, among other factors, concluded in a new period of reforms and the passing of the current legislation.
At present, the system is organised under the National Education Law, the Education Funding Law, the Technical and Professional Education Law and the Higher Education Law. This legislation applies to all the national territory. While each province must pass its own specific legislation, the Federal Education Council is in charge of the coordination and agreement on general matters of the education system.
Regarding the system structure, the current legislation establishes four educational levels: pre-primary, primary and secondary school, and higher education. Furthermore, it defines 14 years of compulsory education starting from pre-school at the age of 4 until the end of secondary school. Finally, it allows each province to choose between two possible structures: either six years of primary school and six years of secondary education, or seven and five years, respectively.
Table 1: Equivalence between educational levels established by the National Education Law (Ley de Educación Nacional 26.206) and the International Standard Classification of Education* (1997). Compulsory education, Argentina, 2017
*Source: SITEAL based on the Ley de Educación Nacional No. 26.206, 2006, retrieved from http://www.sipi.siteal.org/normativas/12/ley-ndeg-262062006-ley-de-educacion-nacional as amended by Law no. 27,045, 2014, retrieved from http://servicios.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/240000-244999/240450/norma.htm and UIS UNESCO.
Note 1: In Argentina, compulsory education extends over 14 years. The extensions of Primary and Secondary Education (ISCED 1, 2 and 3) vary between 7 and 5 years and 6 and 6 years, respectively, according to the specific province (12 jurisdictions have a 6–6 structure and the other 12, a 7–5 one). In this chart, ages and equivalence with ISCED correspond to the 6–6 structure. *Technical education extends for 1 more year
Note 2: The International Standard Classification of Education of the UNESCO Statistics Institute (CINE 97) is the one used by SITEAL for standardizing the information resulting from the national household survey of Latin American countries
The secondary education level is compulsory and constitutes a pedagogic and organisational unit for students who have finished primary education. Secondary education has three tracks: general, technical and artistic education. The first one is divided into two cycles: a Basic Cycle (ISCED 2), common to all students, and an Orientated Cycle (ISCED 3), with a diversified nature according to different areas of knowledge. It is important to add that transition between oriented (academic), technical and artistic tracks is possible at any moment of schooling (depending on the stage and direction of the track change students might have to sit for equivalence exams) and either of them allows access to any course of study or institution of higher education.
Recurring economic crises since the 1970s, including the ones that took place in 2001 and 2018, have increased poverty among the population, leaving a mark on educational systems. The most significant of these problems involves increased educational segregation as well as “deterioration” in the quality of education.
Overview secondary education (see https://data.educacion.gob.ar/nivel/secundario-comun)
In sum, in 2006, Argentina expanded compulsory education to include all years of secondary education, i.e., up to 18 years of age. Expanding compulsory education posed big challenges, especially for leading teams in secondary schools located in areas of high social vulnerability. The challenges included taking on new tasks, managing programs to address specific issues of the new student populations and overcoming challenges related to expanding education and maintaining enrollment. These challenges deepened during the pandemic.