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Country Profile


Education System

The education system is centrally organised.

"All Uruguayan children are required by law to enter school at age six. From ages 6 to 12, they attend primary school. At age 12, they enter the first stage of secondary school, which lasts for 2 years. During this time, they are instructed in the "basics," such as language, mathematics, sciences, and history. At age 15, students may opt for several advanced tracks, depending on their choice of vocation. For the next three to four years, students complete the bachellerito, which is similar to a high school diploma in the United States. Following completion of the bachellerito, graduates may proceed either to one of the country's three universities or attend special institutes related to their specific interests. All instruction in Uruguayan schools is delivered in Spanish, although English and Portuguese are often taught at the secondary levels, and students attending the universities may be trained in a number of international languages."

last checked: 30.07.2019

"The educational system works in an extremely centralized and hierarchical way. All decisions - from administrative matters to curricular frameworks - are taken in the capital city of Montevideo and uniformly enforced throughout the county. This centralized model has been defined as a 'de-localized' system, since all of the administrative, managerial and financial roles are confined to the jurisdiction of the national government. The National Administration of Public Education (ANEP) is the main regulator, provider and evaluator of the educational services in the country. Thus far, the national assessment system has supported the concentration of authority at the central level. Even though it regularly evaluates public and private schools, it has responsibility for the analysis of socio-economic factors on student performance, over other variables such as school management of internal efficiency of the educational system."

Vaillant, Denise (2015): Uruguay: The Teachers' Policies Black Box. In: Schwartzman, Simon (Ed.): Education in South America, Bloomsbury: London/New York, p. 406-407.

Duration of Compulsory Schooling

"School is compulsory for 14 years, starting at age 4 years."

Vaillant, Denise (2015): Uruguay: The Teachers' Policies Black Box. In: Schwartzman, Simon (Ed.): Education in South America, Bloomsbury: London/New York, p. 406.

Textbook Selection


"Not only do central authorities manage school budgets, the recruitment of teachers and the allocation of infrastructure and equipment but they also retain decision - making power over less fundamental aspects of school operation such as the acquisition of instructional materials, ad hoc repairs at schools and the approval of schools’ special activities."

last checked: 30.07.2019

Teacher Training

Teachers must be university graduates.

"Prospective Uruguayan teachers are required to complete one of several programs of study to receive their teaching credentials. To teach at the primary level, it is necessary to complete a three to four-year course of study, offered at an institute, leading to the title, Maestro de Educacion. Secondary teachers are trained at a separate institute specifically for secondary teachers. This training program lasts four years. University instructors complete their studies at the Instituto Superior de Docentes."

last checked: 30.07.2019


History is a single subject. History is a combined subject.

[For specific details see the tables on pages 18-24.]

last checked: 30.07.2019


Politics is a single subject. Politics is a combined subject.

[For specific details see the tables on pages 18-24.]

last checked: 30.07.2019


Religion is not taught.

"As already noted, the teaching of religion at schools [...] is also forbidden in Mexico, Uruguay, and most provinces in Argentina (these last three countries, though, authorize the existence of schools owned by churches and religious communities, which do teach religion)."

Davis, Derek H.; Miroshnikova, Elena (2013): The Routledge international handbook of religious education, London: Routledge, p. 199.


Geography is a single subject. Geography is a combined subject.

[For specific details see the tables on pages 18-24.]

last checked: 30.07.2019

Education Reforms

1877, Law of Common Education: "Uruguay pioneered universal, free, and compulsory primary education in the Americas under the influence of José Pedro Varela (president, 1875-76), whose writings convinced the government to pass the 1877 Law of Common Education. The model adopted for public schools was taken from the French system, and a centralized, nationwide system was established. A rigid separation into three branches of education grew up--primary, secondary, and university. Teacher training for grade school teachers was connected to the primary school system. The National Institute of Technical Education (Instituto Nacional de Educación Técnica--INET) grew up as an extension of the secondary school system."

last checked: 30.07.2019

1973, Laws on Education System: "In 1973 [...] major changes were decreed in the education system. The National Council for Education (Consejo Nacional de Educación--Conae) was set up to oversee all three branches of education under the supervision of the executive branch of government. At the same time, the compulsory length of schooling was raised from six to nine years. The secondary curriculum was completely reorganized, as was the pattern of teacher training."

last checked: 30.07.2019

1985, T eacher Technical Assemblies: "On the other hand, in 1985 the Teacher Technical Assemblies (Asambleas Técnico Docentes—ATD) were set up by law, one for each branch of education, with an advisory role in relation to primary, secondary and professional technical education and the Teacher-Training and Extension Course Department. The ATD authorities are chosen by teachers in secret ballots with departmental national representation and consist of what is called a Permanent Committee, with five members and the General Assembly, with delegates from all over the country. The Permanent Committee meets weekly and its objectives are to: a) consult teachers on technical and teaching issues, subjects on which all teachers in the country meet at least twice a year, in their schools, on a paid basis; b) draw up the relevant report with an analysis of each centre’s proposals; c) be teachers’ representatives on the respective councils; and d) organize the week-long annual General Assembly, with representatives from all over the country, where the issues are debated and future lines of action defined. The Teacher Technical Assemblies are financed by the State and delegates work regularly on committees that debate how the education system is functioning."

last checked: 30.07.2019

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