Argentina is a federal country that has 24 jurisdictions with relative autonomy to define their own policies and manage schools inside their territories; it is the responsibility of the federal government to establish national policies and coordinate and monitor their implementation in the national territory. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there have been national policies promoted by governments of different political natures: On the one side, the Kirchnerist governments from 2003 to 2015, within the framework of the so-called post-neoliberalism in Latin America. On the other side, the government of the Alianza Cambiemos 2015–2019 was an exponent of the conservative restorations in the area. The education policies implemented by these governments are rooted in divergent conceptions about the meaning of education, about rights, and about the responsibility of the nation to create the conditions within which rights can be actualized. Policies based on a conception of education as a social right are confronted with those old and new trends towards privatization and mercantilization of education, whose goal is to have education satisfy market demands.
Education Policies in Argentina
Revisiting Peronist Education in Argentina (1946–1955)
Silvina Gvirtz and Esteban Torre
The first two presidential periods of Juan Domingo Perón were characterized by an intense educational agenda. Between 1946 and 1955, Perón prioritized three strategies in the education field. The first was the implementation of different policies in order to promote an enrollment expansion. The second strategy involved a structural reorganization of the education system in order to favor a reorientation of students toward technical education. The third strategy targeted school content. In this aspect, the Peronism government introduce two types of modifications: first, an updating of school content; second, the insertion of material related to Peronist ideology in the curriculum. The effectiveness of these policies can be considered by using statistical data and revisiting a study of school notebooks of the period of interest that provides evidence on how teachers react toward the incorporation of content related to the Peronist doctrine.
Qualitative Research Approaches to Educational Inequality in Latin America
Ana Maria F. Almeida and Sandra Ziegler
International comparisons demonstrate considerable educational inequality across Latin America. Since the return of democracy in the region in the mid-1980s, these educational disparities have become an important object of studies and public policies, not least because educational inequality reflects, and entrenches, deep social inequalities across the region. Studies of this phenomenon are multifaceted, with distinctions between qualitative and quantitative approaches corresponding to distinct disciplinary fields (sociology, psychology, history versus economics, notably), university departments (colleges of education, sociology departments versus economics departments), and gender (women versus men). Qualitative approaches examine a limited number of cases, usually using interviews and ethnographies, to examine a circumscribed space of social action, often limited to a small set of institutions within a single national framework. Studies carried out in this perspective support the construction of hypotheses that can then be tested with a larger number of cases. They are particularly suited to identifying multiple, mutually influencing causalities, thus enabling a dense description of the complex dynamics that lead to the reproduction of educational inequality in the region. At the same time, these approaches have not tackled comparative analysis nor have they addressed the global dynamics affecting education in the region.
Public and Private Dimensions of Food Education in Early-20th-Century Argentina
Angela Aisenstein and María Liliana Gómez Bidondo
Eating is a conscious activity, not just a biological necessity, and as such, eating habits and tastes can be guided. When individual issues, such as those around food, coincide with the economic, demographic, and health problems of society, they become public issues, then state concerns, and ultimately part of public policy. In Argentina, the education system was founded simultaneously with the nation-state and became a crucial tool in the process of modernization. Feeding and food education were part of that process. This issue was of essential importance in a country structured from the beginning as a dependent agricultural-export economy. Food education is defined as a set of means, methods, and social relationships related to the production, transmission, distribution, and acquisition of knowledge and expertise. The purpose of food education is to influence the kind of food the population eats, to shape their nutritional habits and tastes; to produce enough food and set the conditions, techniques, and technologies to achieve it; to convey people’s rights and obligations to access food; and to establish the roles the state, community, family, and the market must play in order to reproduce the biological, economic, and cultural order of society.
Anthropology and Education in Argentina
Maria Rosa Neufeld
In Argentina, the field of anthropology and education encompasses numerous researchers primarily based in national universities. Ties to the research team that founded the field, directed by Elsie Rockwell in Mexico, remain strong. Research based principally in the national universities of Rosario, Buenos Aires, and Córdoba is responsible for an important part of the work in this field, although not all of it, and these locations integrate the network of researchers in this field. These researchers share an interest in the issues raised by approaching education as a right and they define themselves through what some call a “socio-anthropological” approach and others call “historical ethnography.” This theoretical and methodological focus aims to produce knowledge about the social world by putting fieldwork in conversation with theoretical reflection. This includes an understanding of the conflictive nature of social relationships, the historicity caught in the fabric of everyday events, denaturalization, and reflections on the engagement of researchers on doing fieldwork. At the same time, researchers adopt a perspective called “relational,” which aims to link different dimensions of the problem in question and approach them as articulated.
Critical Literacy: A Case from Argentina and Its Implications
Melina Porto and Graham V. Crookes
Second-language critical literacy refers to the application of the concepts and practices of critical literacy in contexts where individuals are using a language that is not the one they grew up with or were initially socialized into. “Second” means a language acquired either naturalistically or in instructed contexts that is somewhat distinct, at least conceptually, from a primary or so-called native language—learned in some sense earlier or better than a primary one (although these terms are at best simplifications of complex matters). Critical literacy is generally recognized as having evolved out of a line of work in the broad and comparatively long tradition of radical education associated with Paulo Freire. However, as different strands of critical literacy have become more developed, more established, and more visible, it is harder to determine lines of influence. It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that critical language pedagogy and critical literacy began to appear in reports from a range of countries. In Latin America, critical perspectives and pedagogies have a history of 200 years, existed before the Spanish conquest, and are not tied to Freire in particular, but result from a combination of social, cultural, political, and educational influences emerging in the region in the 19th century. These perspectives and pedagogies are multifaceted, polysemic, locally situated, and tied to each specific territory. This means that it is important to consider broad historical perspectives and to recognize the powerful macro-level factors that can eventually culminate in somewhat favorable conditions for critical literacy in specific contexts at the present time. Those conditions may not last, incidentally. Finally, to answer the question “How can practical instructional programs in the area of second language critical literacy be designed, developed, and implemented?” it seems that critical re-design can be a useful approach in the classroom. Critical re-design refers to the process, somewhat analogous to Freire’s emphasis on gaining distance from a problem, by which students analyze an issue so as to be able to act on it “to make a positive difference” in their social milieu. It is through detailed analysis of the issue and its connection to students’ lives, and the use of imagination, that the possibility of making a difference becomes actual.