School and Education in Argentina

There are 7-year primary and 5-year high schools in Argentina, of which 9 years of education is compulsory.

The high school is divided into different fields of study. Almost 80% of young people go to high school and 48% take higher education. Higher education is offered in public and private universities and colleges. In 2000, Argentina had approx. 1.7 million students.

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The Argentine school system has in many ways succeeded in building a national identity. However, there is still conflict between the radicals, who want a liberal education, and the Peronists, who want a Catholic- based school.

The quality of education varies greatly. About. 20% of schools are private, most often Catholic, and these are, with few exceptions, the best schools in the country. Public schools usually have poorer educated teachers and poor equipment. Illiteracy is estimated to be approx. 3% (2000).

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The University of Buenos Aires (UBA) was established in 1821 and includes thirteen faculties, six hospitals and ten museums.

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Coup and reaction

After 1950, prices of agricultural commodities on the world market began to fall, and industrial citizenship, which required more capital to expand, could no longer obtain it through the tapping of agricultural exports. Thus, the pressure on the working class increased, and while real wages for industrial workers increased by 70% from 1945 to 1949, they decreased by 25% from 1949 to 1953. Perón thought that nationalism became too costly in the long run, and in 1953 provided increased access for foreign investment in important industrial sectors, while starting negotiations with Standard Oil of California on oil extraction in Patagonia. In doing so, Perón withdrew from the nationalist sectors of the military, while opening up abroad was not sufficient for the industrial citizenship that had previously supported Perón. The lack of domestic financing now made the majority of this bourgeoisie feel better served to go into direct alliance with foreign capital interests. Dissatisfaction in the working class was increasing, and when Perón was at the same time at odds with the former Allied Catholic Church – by allowing divorce and public prostitution – too many of his alliance partners had disappeared. In 1955, therefore, the most imperially allied sectors of the armed forces – first and foremost the navy – could lead to a coup with support from the major landlords, who had largely retained their positions of power through the ten years of peronist rule, and from large sections of industrial and trade bourgeoisie. Large sections of the working class continued to support Perón, but although some required weapons to defend their leader, they were not organized to confront the military. Perón found it wise to flee to Paraguay without taking up the fight. Later he went to Spain in exile. Developments in Argentina show how an imperialist allied citizenship is being transformed into a massively repressive military regime – all the while preserving its rule and imperialism.

The 1955 coup was aimed at the working class and nationalist interests. For the coup makers, the peronist movement was the most important expression of both of them. The Peronist Party was banned. The coup makers intervened in the peronistically-dominated trade union organization CGT, and hundreds of union leaders were arrested. Economic policy after 1955 was, of course, taking care of the interests of the large industry and landlords. Devaluations were carried out to the benefit of the export industries and domestic prices of agricultural commodities were sharply raised. With this national transfer of revenue to agriculture, the capital injection to the industrial bourgeoisie had to be secured in another way. This was done by opening the country to foreign capital, which flowed in, and later to pull large values ​​out of the country again. In order to increase exports, domestic consumption had to be reduced, which of course went beyond the wider strata. Accordingly, after 1955, the share of national product declined rapidly and real wages fell accordingly.

Contradictions in the trade union movement

Within the trade union movement, a clear contradiction developed during the period 46-55, which later became crucial to the political struggle of the working class – the contradiction between those who stand for a line of cooperation and will accept the rules laid down by the state power in order to gain short-term economic benefits, and those who stand for a battle line and refuse any cooperation with a state power they will not acknowledge. The latter tendency is aware that this attitude makes it difficult to fight the current economic demands, but will not let the short-term economic demands outweigh the political demands of the working class. This opposition in the working class grew stronger through the 60’s, and developed both within the Peronist trade union movement and in the organization of class struggle-oriented trade unions – gremios clasistas – that were not Peronist-dominated. However, the key union leaders in the CGT have historically predominantly advocated various forms of cooperation with the military. Either by declared support or by seeking forms of “peaceful coexistence” for the mutual benefit of the trade union bureaucrats and the military. Especially in the period 1966-73, the central leadership of the CGT revealed themselves as clear worker aristocrats who did everything they could to curb the mass mobilizations against the military regime. During this period, therefore, a strong opposition trade union movement emerged – both within Peronism (CGT de los argentinos, the CGT of the Argentinians) and outside (including gremios clasistas, class unions).

The Peronists were still banned in the late 50’s. Yet it was their voices that in 1958 brought them progress-oriented Arturo Frondizi to power. He opened the country to the multinational oil companies and car factories, and implemented an economic policy involving a rapid concentration of wealth and aggravated social conflicts. Frondizi abolished the band listing of the Peronists who, in the 1962 parliamentary elections, prevailed in 10 provinces. This triggered a new military intervention in political life. Frondizi was removed, and after two violent clashes between sectors of the armed forces, General Juan Carlos Onganía emerged as the victor. He once again banished Peronism and handed over the government to the radical Arturo Illia, whose government was the first in four decades not to introduce state of emergency or other repression measures. Illia canceled the oil contracts Frondizi had signed and paid compensation to the foreign companies concerned. Several good harvest results and the opening of commercial relations with the socialist countries helped to overcome the crisis the military intervention had triggered. Illia refused to contribute Argentine forces to the US invasion of Santo Domingo in 1965, but at the same time his entire reign was marked by clashes with the Peronist unions that carried out strikes, mobilizations and factory occupations.