Public education in Uruguay is free and compulsory for children aged 6 to 14. The country has traditionally boasted high levels of compliance with required education, as well as a large number of students who enroll in secondary school. As a result, Uruguay holds an impressive position in the Latin America community for its high literacy rate of approximately 96 percent.
All Uruguayan children are required by law to enter school at age six. From ages 6 to 12, they attend primary school. At age 12, they enter the first stage of secondary school, which lasts for 2 years. During this time, they are instructed in the "basics," such as language, mathematics, sciences, and history.
At age 15, students may opt for several advanced tracks, depending on their choice of vocation. For the next three to four years, students complete the bachellerito, which is similar to a high school diploma in the United States. Following completion of the bachellerito, graduates may proceed either to one of the country's three universities or attend special institutes related to their specific interests. All instruction in Uruguayan schools is delivered in Spanish, although English and Portuguese are often taught at the secondary levels, and students attending the universities may be trained in a number of international languages.
During the mid-1990s, a number of educational reforms were proposed by the Administracion Nacional de la Educacion Publica (National Administration of Public Education). These reforms, which had not been passed as of 2001, would provide for new school facilities, a broader curriculum including more science, math, critical thinking, and English and Portuguese language instruction, as well as more attention to technology. Additionally, the World Bank approved a $28 million (U.S.) loan to improve primary education for Uruguayan children. The monies from this loan were dedicated to improving educational facilities, hiring more teachers, integrating technology into the classroom, and other instructionbased student initiatives.
Another development that is seriously affecting education in Uruguay—as in countries everywhere—is Mercosur. Mercosur is a free trade market agreement among six South American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, that was created in the 1990s. Its implications for the economy extend to the classroom since the agreement will impact political relations, globalization, and technology.
All aspects of education in Uruguay fall under the auspices of the Ministerio de Educacion y Cultura (The Ministry of Education and Culture). A substantial portion of government expenditures are allocated to secular education.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceUruguay - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Secondary Education, Higher Education - PREPRIMARY PRIMARY EDUCATION