Report Nº: 105720/02/2024


The abrupt elimination of FONID is a source of conflict. It will surely be used to start the school year again with strikes. FONID and all the national programs that advance on provincial functions should be eliminated. But as part of an integral ordering of the State.        

When the Argentine Republic was formed in 1860, the provinces –which are the Republic creators– reserved for themselves, in Article 5 of the National Constitution, the administration of education. However, faced with the inaction of the provinces in 1880 –during the government of Julio A. Roca– Sarmiento had himself appointed superintendent of schools with the objective of building schools and training teachers in the provinces from the national State. It was a practical decision, but contrary to the Constitution, which furthermore installed the erroneous idea that the national State is responsible for basic education.

A century later, in the 70’s and 90’s, all national schools were transferred to the provinces, regularizing the situation. But the process was not accompanied by the national Ministry of Education reconversion. On the contrary, the national authorities maintained the intention of co-managing the schools. Thus, there are currently 7 national programs that interfere in the educational management of the provinces, consuming half of the Ministry of Education budget. One of them is the National Fund for Teacher Incentive (FONID) which supplements the salary of provincial teachers in 9% of the total salary on average.

How does the elimination of FONID impact national and provincial public finances? According to the Ministry of Economy for the year 2023 it is observed that:

  • FONID distributed among the provinces was AR$333 billion or 0.17% of GDP.
  • For the provinces, this amount represented 1% of total provincial spending.
  • For the Nation, it represented 0.75% of total national spending.  

These data show that FONID has relatively small magnitude both in provincial expenditures and in the national budget. However, its elimination generates heated controversies, deepening the conflicts with teachers’ unions. This will surely contribute to once again –as has been happening for decades– classes will not start according to the school calendar set by each province (April 26, March 1 or March 4). It pays a high social and political cost for the few resources involved.

FONID was born, like the rest of the national programs, with good intentions: to finance an incentive that rewards educators who are committed to the good education of their students. This collided with the reality that teachers are provincial public employees. Abandoning its original design, FONID quickly migrated to a salary supplement for all teachers. Thus, teachers who teach classes with a high commitment to their task are paid the same as those who do not work thanks to the bad rules and multiple administrative loopholes offered by the archaic teachers’ statutes. Instead of rewarding effort and good teaching, FONID encourages mediocrity.

The elimination of FONID is justified on both legal and managerial grounds. The same applies to the other 6 national programs currently being implemented by the national Ministry of Education. But it should be done as part of a plan to reconvert the role of the national State in basic education. This requires correcting many inconsistencies such as, for example, those contemplated in the omnibus bill that maintains the national teachers’ collective bargaining while teachers are provincial employees. Likewise, the reconversion plan must be implemented in coordination with the provinces. Otherwise, the conflict is exacerbated, giving the opportunity to the provincial governments –responsible for the public management of education– to dilute their responsibilities in the deep quality education deterioration. 

The case of FONID is very illustrative of the differences between adjusting versus organizing the State. Eliminating FONID, without a coherent strategy, contributes little in terms of fiscal savings and much in the deterioration of education. The FONID elimination should be part of the restructuring of the Ministry of Education. This Ministry should be reconverted into a coordinating, evaluation and information-generating agency. Thus, it will be feasible to lower public spending in a sustainable manner and simultaneously incentivize the provincial government to improve the quality of provincial education services. 


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