Primary education: changing mainstay of Uruguay
Bogliaccini, Juan Ariel
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Traditionally one of the countries with highest levels of social and human development in Latin America, Uruguay is a small and eminently urban country, with an extended welfare state and universal education. From the beginnings of the twentieth century, education has been one of its main tools for promoting nationality and citizenship. The region and Uruguay experimented with different economic development models, switching development models from an Import Substitution Model (ISM) to an exportoriented model. As a result, the second half of the twentieth century entailed a series of changes in the social structures of the country. Poverty and inequality indicators grew and the architecture of the welfare state gradually lost its capacity to respond to a changing structure of social risks (Filgueira et al., 2005). Education was not insulated from these changes. In 1995, there is a revolution in the educational public system caused by the reform initiated by the national government. This reform has concentrated most of its strategies on equity in resources (with compensatory emphasis) and has resulted in centralized models that combine focused and universal resources assignment. In primary educational level, Full-Time School model has been its main and more successful tool. Eleven years after the beginning of the reform, the educational system faces, in terms of its organization, a set of tensions between the traditional structure and the emerging model. The challenges are four: Teachers’ stability in schools, degree of autonomy between the school and the central administration, cultural impoverishment of the underprivileged social sectors, and the necessity of basing the expansion of the new model on additional resources. This chapter provides an analysis of the educational system characteristics associated with these four tensions, and a discussion of the most important risks in terms of universalizing the emerging transformation.
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