Primary and Secondary Schools in Uruguay

Primary and Secondary Schools in Uruguay by City:


About Primary and Secondary Schools in Uruguay

Primary and secondary education in Uruguay comprise a total of twelve years of school, nine of which (from ages 6 to 15) are compulsory. Public education is free throughout the country, and students are held to a high academic standard. At the primary school level, there are two tracks – academic and technical – for older students. The academic track prepares them for college education, while the technical track prepares them for technical jobs that do not require a degree. Female students account for more than half of the students in Uruguay’s primary and secondary schools, and there is no significant difference between male and female literacy rates.
Generally speaking, primary and secondary schools in Uruguay are some of the best in the region. Teachers are highly respected and well-trained to do their jobs, and families even in rural areas place a high priority on the education of their children. At 98.3%, Uruguay has the highest literacy rate in South America, which is a reflection of the high quality of instruction available at Uruguayan primary and secondary schools.

The main problem with primary and secondary education in Uruguay is the lack of up-to-date facilities and the problem of overcrowding. The country’s relatively slow pace of economic development has left schools without adequate resources to teach their students. The problem is especially severe in rural areas. As Uruguayan peasants flood into the cities (the United Nations estimates that 93 percent of the country’s population resides in urban areas), rural schools have become increasingly dilapidated. The sparse population of rural Uruguay means that some schools have only 10 or 20 students in their accessible radius. If one of these tiny schools should close, there are no backups nearby for students.

Primary and secondary schools in urban areas have precisely the opposite problem. They are severely overcrowded and there are not enough supplies (let alone instructors and classrooms) to go around. The growth of schools in cities like Montevideo has not kept pace with the rapid urbanization, and so their limited resources are spread out among for more students than they are equipped to handle.

Fortunately, the government of Uruguay is stepping in with a widely-hailed “Ceibal Project.” The purpose of the Ceibal Project is to spread digital literacy among Uruguayan primary school students. With the assistance of the international NGO One Laptop per Child, the Uruguayan school system has ensured that nearly all primary school children in the country have cheap, reliable, and user-friendly laptops that they can use to help them with their homework. While the Ceibal Project will by no means solve all of the problems of primary and secondary education in Uruguay, it at least demonstrates the willingness of parents and administrators to prioritize education and seek solutions to the problems faced by their schools and teachers.

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