Kids Life in Argentina
Although there is some variety when school begins, most children must get up between 7:00 and 7:30 to get ready for school. Breakfast in Argentina usually consists of hard rolls (or toast) and jam with tea or coffee. A favorite drink for young children is called “submarino,” which is milk with chocolate syrup added.
There are no public school buses, so kids will usually walk or ride a public transportation bus to school, depending on the local circumstances. They will catch their bus in time to arrive at school around 8:00. Wealthier parents often drive their children to school.
In country or rural areas, some children will even go to school on horseback. Argentina is home to many large cattle ranches, and children who grow up on such ranches are very comfortable riding horses from the time they are very young. Larger ranches may even have their own one-room school for the children on the ranch to attend.
In the Classroom
In order to create a sense of equality among students, regardless of economic background, students wear standard uniforms consisting of knee-length white smocks over their everyday clothes: the boys’ smocks button down the front, and the girls’ button down the back. The smocks resemble white laboratory coats. Students must buy their own books and uniforms.
Private schools are conducted by churches and other organizations, but they of course charge tuition. Separate programs are available for special needs children.
Schools have varying schedules, but many will have split sessions, with half of the students attending in the morning and half in the afternoon. School sessions provide three 10-minute breaks during each morning and afternoon session.
One of Latin America
’s most frequent problems with education is the number of malnourished children who attend school hungry. Argentina
is one of the best countries on the continent for ensuring that its children are fed properly. Certainly a small percentage of poor families cannot provide their children with sufficient nourishment, but only 2% of children under the age of five are considered underweight because a lack of food. Furthermore, almost three-fourths of the entire population has ready access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities.
Recently, the Argentina
’s educators has teamed up with some wealthy businessmen to improve the technological part of education. Over 50,000 personal computers have been installed in schools around the country, and the plan is to install another 50,000 before 2008. This is a tremendous asset for educators and provides children with a background that will allow them to get much higher paying jobs because of their familiarity with computers and the Internet.
Spanish is the national language, though it is spoken in many accents, including a significant Italian influence in much of the country. Other languages spoken in the country include German and French.
When students are 14 years old, they take exams that dictate which type of secondary school they can enter. Some schools are for those who plan to attend college, others train children for vocations (business, industries, or trades), and yet others prepare students for teaching primary school.
Most citizens of Argentina
aged 15 or older can read and write. The country has one of the better educated populations in Latin America
. Indeed, education is prized as one of the most important assets people can have.
The government provides free public education for children ages 5-14, covering elementary and high school. There are also many privately funded schools that charge tuition for their schools.
Children attend school from March, which is fall in South America
, until late November. Summer vacation occurs when it is hottest, during December, January, and February.
The length of school day can vary, especially among private schools, but in general the day begins at approximately 8:00 in the morning and will conclude in the early afternoon. School is finished each day by 4:30 in the afternoon. For younger children, the school session either runs from 8:00 until noon or from 1:00 until 5:00.
Subjects for children in elementary school include math, science, history, geography, Spanish, English, music, belief systems, technology, and physical education. Until the age of nine, a child must study English for at least two hours a day.
Sports in Argentina are usually organized by leagues rather than schools. Most youth will pick a sport when they are quiet young and stick with that sport throughout their school-age days. Competition between schools does still happen, however, but they are focused in other areas, such as dance and music. Thus extracurricular activities, when they are offered, involve art, academic clubs, music, dance, and similar activities.
The most popular sport in Argentina is soccer, as in most of Latin America and Europe. However, Argentines also enjoy basketball, rugby, and auto and horse racing. People are friendly and will encourage fun and openness.
Cultural backgrounds are so diverse in Argentina that it is difficult to describe a “typical” Argentinian family. In the primary city of Buenos Aires, in which about one-third of the entire population of the country lives, there is a saying that a citizen there “speaks Spanish, eats Italian, dresses like a Frenchman, and thinks he is an Englishman.”
Fathers are considered the head of the family, while mothers are in charge of the home—although in recent years women have become more active in business and affairs outside of the home. Grandparents will often live with extended families and help care for the younger children while parents work, and newlywed couples usually live with parents until they are financially able to move out on their own.
Argentinians usually eat four meals per day: a light breakfast, lunch, a small dish of cheeses or snacks following work, and dinner in the evening. The late afternoon light meal probably comes from a British influence of having afternoon tea. Empanadas, which are little pies filled with meats, seafood, or vegetables are a popular snack, one which children often take with them to school and which can be easily purchased from street vendors, along with warm peanuts, sweet popcorn, fruit, and similar “fast foods.” Traditional evening meals are eaten after nine in the evening. Argentina is known throughout the world for its superb beef, and many evening meals include pasta and beef, accompanied by maté, a native tealike beverage.