Argentina outspends the rest of Latin America in education

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Argentina outspends the rest of Latin America in education

Argentina is one of the biggest investors in education throughout Latin America, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study, which noted that Argentina allocated 6.3 percent of its GDP to education in 2012, compared to the five-percent average for the region and 5.6 percent for the OECD as a whole.

The OECD is made up by an estimated 80 countries.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner praised the study yesterday, saying that Argentina was “the biggest investor in education in Latin America.”

“I already knew this, but when the UN and OECD say it, then it reaches a new leave of importance,” the president added.

Enrollment in Argentina is also higher than the regional average at all levels of education

Latin America in educationThe OECD report also gave credit to the Universal Child Allowance (AUH) scheme as a key factor in increasing the amount of money devoted to education. The AUH grants monthly subsidies to families on condition that their children attend school.

The OECD also praised the Conectar Igualdad digital-inclusion programme for students and teachers in high schools, which provides them with free laptop computers, for example.

“We have breached the digital gap, there isn’t any public school teacher or student who doesn’t have a computer,” said the president.

In terms of gender equality there wasn’t any significance difference between female and male school attendance in the pre-primary and primary levels, but once students enter secondary education there was a clear divergence favouring female students, a trend evident in all of Latin America. In Argentina’s secondary schools, 81 percent of males were enrolled in comparison to 89 percent of females. But that widened in tertiary education, with 62 percent of males enrolled in comparison to 96 percent of women.

Testing doesn’t follow suit

Even though the country invests the most in education in proportion to its GDP, it continues to lag behind in terms of performance, as measured by the PISA tests. In 2012, the country’s math scores were below both the OECD and regional averages.

Argentina has seen improvement over the last few years, but at a slower pace than its neighbours at around one-to-two percentage points per year since 2006, in comparison to Brazil and Mexico that experienced improvements of three to four points per year.

Dropout rates for students in tertiary education were much higher for Argentina, which has a 12 percent graduation ratio, lower than Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.

But when it comes to being able to access education, Argentina also ranked higher than the Latin American average for all levels of income, particularly the poorest sectors.

Despite this, the Argentine population is not as optimistic about their children’s future. According to a 2012-2013 Gallup poll cited in the report, less than half of the population in Argentina believe children have the opportunity to learn and grow every day, lower than the 60 percent Latin America average and the 80 percent OECD average.

Laws passed during late former president Néstor Kirchner’s administration were seen as key to improving education in the country by centralizing it at a national level, improving vocational technical schools and increasing teachers’ salaries, the OECD said.

The OECD also praised laws such as the new National Education Act (Ley Nacional de Educación) that declares education as a “social right.”

The president yesterday announced a series of education measures geared toward providing public schools with funds to carry out repairs with the creation of a 387-million-peso trust that will benefit 4,840 schools across the country.

“Every school will receive 80,000 pesos so small renovation projects can be carried out during vacations,” Fernández de Kirchner said.

Herald staff

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