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Argentina has many schools to choose from, but there are many factors to consider when choosing a school, such as language proficiency, neighbourhoods, commute time, tuition expenses, size of the classes and availability.
Most schools in Argentina are based on the Southern Hemisphere calendar, with classes typically starting in late February and ending in mid-December. Some international schools follow the Northern Hemisphere school calendar, with classes running from September until June.
Generally, the schooling system in Argentina is divided into three levels:
- Kindergartens are separate and available for 2–5-year-olds
- Primary school is Grades 1–6
- Secondary is Grades 7–12
Schooling is compulsory in Argentina from the last year of kindergarten to the end of secondary school. Schools can be divided into public, private and international schools.
Public schools in Argentina
Public school in Argentina is free and, as one of the first countries in the Americas to provide free public schooling, Argentina has a long and proud history of education.
Despite Argentina having a 98 percent literacy rate and one of the highest enrolment rates in tertiary education in South America, the quality of the country's education system has been on the decline in recent years. The World Bank and OECD indicate a gradual decrease in public spending on education both in real terms and relative to GDP, presumably resulting from the country's economic fluctuations. This reduction means a decline in public education infrastructure and a reduction in extracurriculars.
Normally classes are only offered for a half day (either from 8am to 12pm or from 1pm to 5pm), and public schools don't offer bilingual programmes. Considering that most expats would be looking for the best education for their children, the public school system may not be the best option, especially for short-term expats.
Private schools in Argentina
There are many good options for private schools in all major cities in Argentina. Private schools still follow the Argentinian curriculum, although they have more flexibility. The curricula and fees vary greatly, but the choices are numerous. It’s possible to find smaller neighbourhood schools with a more Argentinian feel, or larger schools with a more international feel.
Most private schools, especially in the Buenos Aires area, are used to accepting expat families. Most private schools have some type of bilingual programme and can provide students with Spanish language support to help non-native speakers.
After-school sports are provided by many schools, but children can also join a local sports club.
As Argentina is officially a Catholic country, there are many private schools funded by the Catholic Church. These schools aren’t necessarily religious, however, and students don’t have to be Catholic to attend. It’s also good to note that a school’s name doesn’t always indicate whether it’s religious or secular. Expat parents shouldn’t assume a school is exclusively Catholic just because its name sounds religious. It’s always best to contact a school directly about this.
International schools in Argentina
International schools are ideal for families living in Argentina for the short term or for those who want their children to continue with their home country's language and curriculum. There are several international schools in Argentina, particularly in larger cities such as Córdoba and Buenos Aires. Some of these schools are called colleges, they're generally private and require tuition fees, which can be rather expensive.
These schools typically offer a sports programme as well as the arts, with well-equipped facilities, qualified coaches and instructors, and opportunities for students to participate in competitions and performances.
Younger children are typically more adaptable to learning a new language like Spanish, while older children may struggle to catch up to their peers quickly. An international school may provide these students with an opportunity to learn Spanish while being taught the rest of the curriculum in English.
Most schools have some type of international curricula such as the IB (International Baccalaureate) or the Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education). These programmes provide curricular guidance and international standardised assessments, access to global networks and transferable qualifications. There also are international schools that follow German, Italian, French and Japanese curricula.
Homeschooling in Argentina
Homeschooling is not explicitly regulated in Argentina, but it's also not expressly prohibited, making it a legally grey area for expat parents. Another option for expat families is to enrol their children as 'free students' in public schools, which requires them to take an exam once or twice a year based on the official state curriculum. Families considering homeschooling in Argentina should research the local laws and regulations and consult with a legal expert before making any decisions.
Special-needs education in Argentina
In Argentina, federal law mandates that all schools accept children with disabilities, but not all public schools are fully equipped to cater for the needs of children with special educational needs, and there are still instances of exclusion. The Ministry of Education provides some support to schools that serve students with special needs, and there are also private organisations that provide services to families with children who have special needs.
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on inclusion programmes in many schools, aimed at integrating children with different abilities. Nonetheless, expat parents of children with special needs may want to consider international or private schools over public ones. It is recommended that parents reach out to schools individually to determine what options are available and what the enrolment process entails. This way, they can make an informed decision about which school can best meet the educational and developmental needs of their child.
Tutoring in Argentina
Expats can find private home or online tutors for their children through registered online tutor companies. Apprentus and TeacherOn are two such companies. These tutors can help children adjust to the new curriculum, or to learning in Spanish. Tutors can also offer school support for students struggling with problem subjects such as mathematics.
Tertiary education in Argentina
Tertiary education in Argentina is free for those attending state universities, and Argentina has a relatively large degree-holding population. The University of Buenos Aires is free, well known and highly respected. While universities in Argentina may be free, students still have to take care of their accommodation, food and transport.
Private universities charge tuition fees that vary depending on the institution. Argentinian universities have a high percentage of part-time students, as many students need to work to support themselves. Foreign students can apply to Argentine universities but will have to pay higher international fees and obtain a student visa.
Are you an expat living in Argentina?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Argentina. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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