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Argentina has a large number of 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 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 1st–6th grade
- Secondary is 7th–12th grade
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, the Argentines have 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 countries education system has decreased. The many economic crises and a lack of government spending on education has taken its toll on the infrastructure of the schools in the country.
Normally classes are only offered for a half day, and public schools don't offer bilingual programmes or English classes. Additionally, there are generally very few options for electives such as music or art.
Considering that most expats would be looking for schools with the highest quality education possible, the public school system may not be the best option for expat children.
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 vast. It’s possible to find smaller neighbourhood schools with a more Argentinian feel, or a larger school with a more international feel. No matter what, most private schools, especially in the Buenos Aires area, are used to accepting expat families.
Most private schools have some type of bilingual programme, although the level of English can vary greatly. After-school sports are provided by many schools, but children can also join a sports club.
As Argentina is officially a Catholic country, there are many private schools that are 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
There are also several international schools in Argentina, particularly in larger cities such as Cordoba and Buenos Aires. These schools are sometimes called colleges, they’re generally private and require tuition, which can be rather expensive.
These schools generally offer a sports programme, as well as the arts.
While young children can adapt to Spanish teaching rather quickly, older children might struggle and an international school may therefore be the best option. These students can learn Spanish in school, 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 IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education). These programmes provide curricular guidance and international evaluations at the end of each year. There also are international schools that follow German, Italian, French and Japanese curricula.
Homeschooling in Argentina
Although homeschooling is not illegal in Argentina, it is also not specified by law. Expats who choose to homeschool fall into a grey area, but since they aren’t Argentine citizens they may be permitted to homeschool under their home country’s legal system. Alternatively, expats can apply for official certification in public schools as 'free students', where they will be required to take an exam once or twice a year. These exams are free and are determined by the official state curriculum.
Special-needs education in Argentina
By Federal law, all schools must accept children with disabilities. There’s a new push for inclusion programmes in many schools, trying to incorporate children with all different types of abilities. Unfortunately, there are still many public schools unreceptive to children with special needs.
Expat parents of children with special needs should consider international or private schools over public. It is advisable to contact individual schools to find out what options are available and how enrolment would work.
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 in any of their classes.
Tertiary education in Argentina
Tertiary education in Argentina is free for those attending state universities. The University of Buenos Aires is free, well known and highly respected. 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 sustain themselves. Foreign students can apply to Argentine universities but will have to pay higher international fees and obtain a student visa.
►For more information on adjusting to life in Argentina, have a look at our Culture Shock in Argentina page.
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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