Preprimary & Primary Education
Preprimary school in Argentina is not mandatory, but from the 1980s, enrollment in preschool increased more rapidly than at any other level. Most preprimary schools are private and serve the children of the upper class. By 1986, Argentina had slightly more than 8,000 preprimary schools. According to a government statement, preprimary school should prepare the child physically, spiritually, and morally, as well as instill orderly habits and obedience. The child learns personal hygiene along with correct posture and graceful movements and is introduced to language skills, arithmetic, writing, and reading. Religion is also part of the child's instruction.
Primary education lasts seven years, at the end of which time the student receives a Certification of Completion. It is, in theory at least, compulsory for children ages 6 through 14. The curriculum includes mathematics, Spanish, social studies, basic science, art, music, and physical education. About 10 percent of the primary schools are private and enroll 18 percent of the age group. Fewer than 50 percent of the students who enroll complete all seven years of the primary curriculum. By the 1990s primary schools numbered more than 21,000. Nearly 18,000 of these were controlled by provincial governments and more than 2,200 schools were private. Almost 5 million children attended the primary level.
In 1977, the official curriculum included language, mathematics, social studies, basic science, aesthetic training (music, art, and handicrafts), and physical education. A revised curriculum in 1978 minimized the curriculum to make it adaptable to different geographical areas. All courses are required, and each course lasts one complete academic year from March to December. The curriculum is developed by a national administrative committee and then approved by the Ministry of Culture and Education.
Only about half of those starting primary level ever reach secondary school. Until 1983, parents from the lower class were not able to afford the private tutoring that the high-school entrance exam required. To make education more equitable, the democratic government in 1983 eliminated the entrance exam and selected students by lottery to attend the desired schools. Students who fail a subject are allowed to take an exam in that subject the following academic year; after a second failure, students must repeat the entire grade. Grade repetition is one of the main causes of school dropouts. The national proportion of students completing the seven years of primary schooling rose steadily from 35 percent in 1960 to around 65 percent in 1990.
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