2 minute read

Paraguay - Summary

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceParaguay - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


Education in a poor country with scant native middle and upper classes is a primary means of achieving social mobility. Paraguay's long history of authoritarian government—with three dictators during the period 1814-1870, frequent changes in the presidency from 1870 to 1954, and Stroessner's political stranglehold on the country until 1989—has stunted progress in public education. The effect has been circular: a lack of democratic control has suppressed the cultivation of strong public school systems, and the absence of such systems has, in turn, kept down democracy by failing to train leaders and productive, engaged citizens. Political, geographical, ethnographic, and economic factors have all worked against education in Paraguay.

Five constitutions dated 1844, 1870, 1940, 1967, and 1992 chart the country's successive efforts toward self-determination. The June 1992 constitution, in the wake of the 1989 coup, has held out hope for educational reform, but ongoing problems have delayed implementation.

In a 1996 article in International Higher Education, Vincente Sarubbi argues that in Paraguay's post-1989 efforts to move toward democracy, a "true educational revolution will be necessary." A founding member of the Advisory Council of Education Reform in Paraguay and a former university teacher and newspaper director, Sarubbi notes the contemporary inadequacies of higher education in particular: "insufficient coverage, low levels of performance, insufficient and dated functions of the university, highly bureaucratized administration, inadequate moral and intellectual development of students, lack of professional teaching standards, and irrelevance of the curriculum for the purposes of production, government, and life in general." Specifically he calls for better scientific and technological education, for broader access to higher education, for more research and a "scientific culture" in universities, and for the development of inclusive and democratic attitudes within.

Many of Sarubbi's negative phrases might also describe the larger education picture in Paraguay at the beginning of the millennium. Still, in a more democratic and open climate than the country has ever enjoyed, the government now promises to broaden educational opportunities as a means of alleviating social deprivation and improving the quality of life in the country.


The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). U.S. State Department Background Notes 1999. The World Factbook 1999. February 17, 2001. Available from http://www.worldrover.com/country/paraguay.

"Paraguay." International Handbook of Universities, 13th ed. Paris: The International Association of Universities, 1993: 722.

"Paraguay: Education." The Library of Congress Country Studies. Apri 2, 2001. Available from http://lcweb2.loc.gov/.

Sarubbi Zaldivar, Vincente. "Democracy and Higher Education in Paraguay." International Higher Education. (August 1996). February 27, 2001. Available from http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/soe/cihe/newsletter/News05/text8.html.

U. S. Department of State. Post Report: Paraguay. Publication No. 9170. 1994.

Worldwide Classroom: Paraguay Schools. February 27, 2001. Available from http://www.worldwide.edu/ci/paraguay/fschools.

—Roy Neil Graves

Additional topics