Report Nº: 103024/08/2023


The educational decline deepens. The presidential candidates signed the Commitment to Literacy. To avoid repeating old failures, the commitment should be that the Nation concentrates on improving the economy and jobs, and the provinces concentrate on improving educational management.       

At the request of a group of 130 civil society organizations, experts, and personalities linked to education, the five main presidential candidates signed a Commitment to Literacy. Three types of interventions from the national government are defined. Two have been in place for a long time: a national program (in this case literacy) and national transfers to the provinces. The third, more innovative and disruptive, is to add periodic and census tests in 3rd grade of primary school to assess literacy and reading comprehension, and the commitment of timely publication of the results. 

Meanwhile, the news reports that ordinary citizens (a girl going to school, a doctor going to visit her mother, among many other cases) are assaulted and killed by young people. The protagonists of these acts of insecurity are young people in marginalized areas, where youngsters with severe educational deficits and long histories of delinquency, and close links with drug trafficking prevail.  

In this context, it is pertinent to observe the results of the Argentine educational system by socioeconomic level. According to the national APRENDER tests the percentage of children finishing 6th grade with insufficient levels in literacy and mathematics are as follows:

  • Among children of high socioeconomic status 24%.
  • Among children of medium socioeconomic level 42%.
  • Among children of low socioeconomic level 70%.  

These data show that the degradation of education affects all socioeconomic strata, although at different intensities. In higher-income households, 1 in 4 children who finish primary school cannot read, write, add, or subtract. Among poor children, almost 3 out of 4 cannot read, write, add, or subtract. The tragedy is that poor children are the majority. According to INDEC, more than half of the children live in poor households. Therefore, the educational system ends up operating as a great supplier of cheap labor for crime and drug trafficking. In this context, it is highly relevant to commit to improving the education system. 

However, education will not improve by encouraging the Nation to try fixing –with money– the deficiencies of the provincial administrations. It is very suggestive the data says that, according to the national Ministry of Education, in the provinces, there are 13 primary school students for each teaching position in class. This shows that the main problem is not lack of resources, but massive teacher absenteeism. Therefore, future presidents should not commit themselves to sending more resources to the provinces, but to put pressure on the provinces to improve educational management by rewarding teachers who teach and achieve higher student learning, and penalizing teachers who do not work.

It must be considered that it is hard to educate in degraded social and family environments, as it prevails in poor neighborhoods. In many cases, children’s education takes a back seat to the urgency of providing them with food and other necessities. This shows how important is for the Nation to secure a sound macroeconomic policy. Lowering inflation and increasing employment are the most important commitments the Nation has to education. 

In order not to fall into voluntarism, the commitment to education should establish that each level of government should fulfill its corresponding functions with solvency. The provinces have to improve their educational management, especially that of human resources. The national government must improve macroeconomics and labor institutions to lower poverty. In addition, as stated in the Commitment to Literacy, it is necessary to establish periodic and census examinations whose results are widely disseminated in the mass media with official advertising. The goal is to empower people to press their governors for better education.


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