The Argentine education system

  • This is one of the reasons that the once brilliant Argentine state education system is in a mess.


    Teachers are not motivated and the Unions dictate the curriculum .


    We try and give our boy a balanced view of what is happening and tell him Cristina is not as bad as some say but not as great as her supporters argue. We point out the good and the bad. The same with Macri.


    GlasgowJohn Jr is 8 next month and is beginning to debate things with common sense , so he will be fine in the long term


    But I worry about the rest of the kids . Middle class parents get annoyed at their kids losing so many days to pointless strikes so they send them to private school. But I know that many will struggle to pay the fees and will end up dropping out.


    I also know quite a few teachers who are looking for other jobs as their salaries are poor .


    The future is uncertain and sometimes I wonder what will happen to Argentina in the future.

  • Private schools have their own problems.


    I send my nippers to a private school that is fairly well respected across Versalles, Villa Real, Devoto, Villa del Parque and those general barrios. It is expensive to send them, but the school is nowhere near the standard of the school I attended as a child (a regular public school in the UK). And if I compare my old school to my kids' school in 2019, well, it really is a huge difference.


    Parents pay a lot to send kids to our school and it looks like it has not been updated since the 1980s. Worse than that (and something that is harder to solve) is the curriculum here, which is truly awful. Add to that teachers don't seem to want to teach, instead handing out hours upon hours of homework. Essentially they are outlining the work to be done and giving it to the kids to do at home. When my kids were younger that meant me and the wife becoming part-time teachers in the evenings to keep the kids up to pace. This is not unique to our household, which is why there is a strong network of tutoring here (never knew anyone who went to a tutor in the UK).


    I have told the story before how my son was taught that Argentina won the Falklands war. He was so convinced of it I could see it in his eyes he thought I was bullshitting when I told him that was not true, haha.

  • Does the school use computers and textbooks, Semigoodlooking, or do the teachers simply tell their students whatever they please, whether factual or invented? I’m wondering how in the world your son’s teacher could get away with so blatantly re-writing history, if the students’ own sources factually told the story of the Falklands War? This is mind boggling.

  • Semi goodlooking said:

    Private schools have their own problems.


    I see that many medium-high class parents send their children to private schools not only because the teachers will not be on strike, (as it happens with the public schools) but for the very important reasons that are collecting contacts, that will serve the young fellow to have invitations, parties and job oppportunities in the future. If you are surrounded by poor people, these things will not appear. It is very cruel and uncomfortable to said this, but this is the plain truth.

    Academic excellence is not the point. You pay for contacts.

  • Semi goodlooking said:

    Private schools have their own problems.


    I see that many medium-high class parents send their children to private schools not only because the teachers will not be on strike, (as it happens with the public schools) but for the very important reasons that are collecting contacts, that will serve the young fellow to have invitations, parties and job oppportunities in the future. If you are surrounded by poor people, these things will not appear. It is very cruel and uncomfortable to said this, but this is the plain truth.

    Academic excellence is not the point. You pay for contacts.

    Private education has often been like that, rubbing shoulders with important people, that kind of thing.

    I know it's an old cliche, but let's face it, it's not what you know but who you know that counts when climbing many career ladders. Although knowing a thing or two of relevance to your stock in trade certainly helps.

  • This certainly happens in the US too. In New York, parents are on a waiting list to be able to pay $50,000 or more, per year for a child’s kindergarten. They willingly pay, despite the fact that this is only preschool, because the kindergarten the children attend can greatly affect their acceptance into a prestigious school for grades 1 - 8, and from there into an even more prestigious high school, which virtually insures entrance into the best universities and then the very best medical, law or graduate schools. At each step of the way, the students’ peers are of a social level that can be helpful in the student‘s social and career path - not to mention that the “best” families often wind up marrying into the “best” families, and so it goes through generations.


    But I have to say that in Argentina the social aspect seems proportionally more critical, even at a lower level than the highest shelf. We have met middle aged, middle class people in non-illustrious careers, whose entire circle of friends is composed of people they knew in high school. No room for growth by getting to know any others.

  • Private education has often been like that, rubbing shoulders with important people, that kind of thing.

    I know it's an old cliche, but let's face it, it's not what you know but who you know that counts when climbing many career ladders. Although knowing a thing or two of relevance to your stock in trade certainly helps.

    Sure, that would be the case in our country, for example. Private education is more normal here, it is not just a social status thing. I said the school they go to is sought after, not neccesarily elite and you don't have to have a lot of money to go there. It is expensive for me because I went to a free school so any cost to pay for school seems too much.




    As for computers as asked by Rice. They use textbooks, although I will admit I am not sure if they did back then (he was 6 or 7 at the time). They don't use computers in school.

  • I have several friends who are teachers in private schools.


    What they are telling me is terrible... and what parents are telling me is terrible as well.


    Teachers complain of poor wages (about 700 USD per month plus medical), restless students with no sign of respect of authority. Most students do not buy the book, instead the copy it and share the copy with the girl/boy sitting next to them. The school administration is perfectly fine with it. Needless to say, they can go on for years without learning a thing on a given subject. If the teacher try to instill some discipline, the administration will receive complains from parents and will extend those remarks to the teacher. The philosophy seems to be 'keep the clients happy'. Learning is not a priority and the level of teaching is very low even in fairly regarded private schools.


    Parents complain of high tuition (depending on the school it could be 300 to 600 USD per month per child in a mid-level bilingual school), too much homework to do, too many requests/demands (for materials, courses, extra-curricular activities).

    They say teachers cannot explain.

  • I remember asking Adri why she sent her son to private school and she looked at me with an expression of, 'Why do you think, dummy?'

    In her opinion, which is shared by most people, it's because the public school education is so appallingly bad, not to mention the fact that children only seem to attend school for about four hours a day.

  • To be fair, the public school system is now very poor here. Most of the issues mentioned Serafina are also present in public schools, such as lack of respect. Splinter, you are correct, the school hours are almost laughable and as I mentioned that results in hours upon hours of homework. Nations with the best education systems have shown keeping homework to a minimum and doing the work in school makes for better results (Finland stands out in this regard). Even in the UK, where homework is normal, the average for a high-school student is 4-5 hours per week.


    It is not uncommon here for a student to go to school until 1pm, come home for lunch then go to a tutor for an hour or two and then spend hours doing homework. As I said, it is pretty standard for the parents to pick up the slack and tutor their kids. Sure, maybe my kids are dumb, but I am talking from experience across all my friends and other parents who say the same.


    And yes, private schools are very political and parents will complain about the slightest thing. Because they pay they feel they have direct authority over the individual teachers. Problem is, the teachers also suck because many have just become apathetic, in both public and private.


    Neither system is working and the reason we went private is because it is more stable. No strikes, for example. Back in 2017 a public school a few blocks away from me started the school year around six weeks late. I doubt those six weeks were ever made up.

  • I attended exclusively public schools in Italy, which are free and were of great quality for the most part, IMHO. However, private schools are limited in Italy, especially if you don't live in a big city like Turin, Rome, Florence, Milan...

    I lived in a small town of 10,000 inhabitants and I attended elementary/primary school (age 6-10) and intermediate school (age 11-13) in the same town. I went to school by foot (elementary) or bike (intermediate) on my own. My class ('83) was the last one under the previous educational scheme, and we attended school only in the morning (8AM to 1PM). We were given a lot of homework and we didn't have tutors because it was not yet 'a thing'.


    High school was in the nearest capital province (50,000 inhabitants) and I had to take a bus every morning at 6:50 AM. My classes were from 8AM to 1PM, and I arrived home at about 2PM. Then I had to make lunch and do homework, this took all afternoon. I dropped volleyball because I couldn't do everything, and training was from 9PM to 11PM because the gym building was shared with other sporting associations. I wasn't able to come home at 11.30PM on an empty stomach and wake up at 6:50AM in the morning to go to school.

    I wasn't doing very well in Latin and started having a tutor, who was quite expensive (but as Semigoodlooking said, when you are used to FREE education, any money spent on education feels 'too much'). Then I needed a math tutor. Also very expensive and humiliating.


    It was normal to spend all afternoon - and sometimes after dinner - doing homework or studying. All alone. My mom came home at 5-6PM and was too tired to spend time to study with me.

    Other friends had family at home so they found the lunch ready when they got home, or occasionally there was a parent carpooling kids back to our small town, so that they could get home et 1:20PM instead of 2PM. This is to say that my experience might have been harder than other people my age because my mother was a single parent, she worked very far and I had to tend to myself.


    The school was very strict and the teachers knowledgeable and distanced. We were called by our surname and addressed with the informal 'you' (the equivalent of 'vos' here), but we had to use the formal 'you' (the equivalent of 'Usted' here) with the teachers. When the teacher entered into the classroom, we had to stand up and shout 'Buongiorno' in unison, we had to raise our hand if we wanted to ask something or if we needed to go to the restroom.


    Now, here I am told the teachers are addressed as 'profe' and students use the 'vos' and slang to talk with them. I have heard multiple reports of teachers being hit with coins or paper balls when they turn their back to write on the blackboard. If they complain with the school principal, they are told to not give their back to the classroom. If they object that they need to in order to write in the blackboard, they are scolded as 'too demanding' (probably, demanding with the principal raising an extra issue they don't want to deal with because it would mean to create friction with parents).
    Basically, teachers are bullied and it is considered part of the job.


    When I had an interview with a bilingual school in Zona Norte, I was being interviewed by two people: the school director, an Argentine woman in her 50's, and the chair of the high school, an Italian man also in his 50's. The interview went very well and they weren't demanding at all, basically just the fact to have an Italian in the classroom was enough, regardless of the qualifications or experience. The pay was miserable, and when I asked 'Excuse me for my question, but I have always attended public schools in Italy and I don't know how private schools work. Is discipline as important as it is in Italy? Or is it more important to keep the parents happy?' (or similar wording, maybe not so direct) I was given the polite-pity-smile by the Argentine director and a compassionate look by the Italian chair of the high school. That moment I knew that place wasn't for me.


    I am very well aware that I can be happy in Argentina provided I limit/cherry-pick my experiences with the local reality.

  • Yes according to my wife who used to be a teacher the schools are poorly run and lacking in resources. She says the unions are as much to blame for that as anything else.

    However I would also say if your parents don't take any interest in your education at home the odds are against you making the grade.


    From what I gather as long as you go the full distance at school you're guaranteed a place at uni or college which is a plus.