Chapter V of the National Education Act (2006) calls for policies to promote equality in education, which are designed to address situations of injustice, marginalization, stigmatization and other forms of discrimination arising from socioeconomic, cultural, geographical or ethnic factors, gender or any other factors that affect the full exercise of the right to education.
According to the Federal Board of Education (CFE) Resolution No. 155 of 2011 , inclusion means transforming education systems and other learning environments to respond to the diverse needs of students. The needs of students are seen as the needs of the institution, while any differences lie in learning styles, rhythms and/or motivations.
Resolution No. 1664 of 2018 of the Province of Buenos Aires states that inclusive education is a universal right, implemented today as a pedagogical aim, that is not reduced or limited solely to students with disabilities, but acknowledges the need to recognize the specific characteristics and needs of every student.
According to Article 42 of the National Education Act, special education is the aspect of the education system designed to ensure the right to education of people with temporary or permanent disabilities at all levels and in all forms of the education system. Special education is governed by the principle of educational inclusion. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, via agreement with the CFE, must guarantee the inclusion of students with disabilities at all levels and in all forms of the education system according to each person’s potential.
Specific learning difficulties
Act No. 2730 of 2016 on the comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to people with specific learning difficulties defines these as neurobiological disorders that affect cognitive processes related to language, reading, writing and/or mathematical calculation, with significant, mild, moderate or severe implications in the school environment.
CFE Resolution No. 155 of 2011 proposed a reorganization of special education in Argentina. The aim is for special schools to become a space specifically designed for children who require this kind of specific educational space due to the complexity or specificity of their needs. All jurisdictions and institutional actors should nurture inclusivity as a cross-cutting culture in the educational establishments under them. Students without disabilities in special education schools and those assessed as having a “mild mental impairment” will be enrolled in mainstream education.
At the early and primary levels, all children with disabilities have the right to be enrolled in mainstream early education as established in CFE Resolution No. 311 of 2016. At the secondary level, jurisdictions will ensure the operation of special education institutions classified as providing “comprehensive education for adolescents and youth with disabilities” in cases requiring the design of an educational pathway that responds to students’ educational needs under the principles of educational inclusion.
Special education schools deploy pedagogical projects to suit the specific needs of each student or school group. In the Province of Buenos Aires, there are special education schools (tier C) for children with learning, visual, motor, hearing, or multiple disabilities; children with severe personality disorders, and others. However, since the approval of Resolution No. 1664 of 2018, the aim is to move towards inclusive education for children, adolescents, youth and young adults with disabilities in the Province of Buenos Aires at all educational levels.
Argentina’s report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, published in 2011, noted that 200 special schools were part of the Programa Integral para la Igualdad Educativa [Comprehensive Programme for Education Equality – PIIE] which seeks to promote conditions conducive to education equality. Although the law protects the right to inclusive education, in 2013 UNESCO’s Regional Education System on Students with Disabilities (SIRIED) conducted a survey on the situation in Argentina and found that, of the 141,627 students with disabilities enrolled in education, 61,552 were enrolled in mainstream schools and 80,075 were enrolled in special schools. In other words, 56 per cent of these students were not enrolled in the mainstream system.
Progress on public policies, awareness-raising campaigns for the community, teachers and parents, and legal instruments such as CFE Resolution No. 311 have brought the country closer to inclusive education. More and more children with disabilities are receiving an inclusive education. According to data from the Ministry of Education, from 2003 to 2017 the number of children with disabilities in mainstream schools increased fourfold (from 21,704 to 90,345). In other words, enrolment in mainstream education grew by 400 per cent over 15 years.
According to the National Education Act, the aims of the national education policy are:
- to ensure that education is inclusive through universal policies and pedagogical and resource allocation strategies that give priority to the most disadvantaged sectors of society;
- to ensure equality, with respect for diversity and prevention of gender or any other type of discrimination;
- to ensure high-quality education with equal opportunities and possibilities, without regional or social disparities.
The Ministry of Education’s 2016–2021 National Strategic Plan: Argentina Teaches and Learns promotes high-quality education focused on learning so that conditions of equality and respect for diversity can be fully developed. It includes the organization of a joint work agenda between national and provincial authorities and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires to facilitate the development of a comprehensive, inclusive and high-quality public education policy covering all levels and modalities of the education system.
Argentina has developed several laws to promote and guarantee the rights of people with disabilities, as well as different regulations to guarantee their inclusion in education.
The National Education Act establishes that special education should be governed by the principle of inclusion and should address those specific problems that mainstream education cannot. The Act provides for education measures to integrate people with disabilities into society. These measures include teacher training, adaptation of the school curriculum and employment integration policies.
CFE Resolution No. 1255 of 2011 regulates special education and establishes that it will only be for students who, due to the complexity or specificity of their needs, require a special educational space. Meanwhile, Resolution No. 311 of 2016 governs the advancement, accreditation, certification and graduation of students with disabilities. This resolution was a big step forward in including people with disabilities insofar as it established that schools must identify the learning barriers that such students face and formulate a Proyecto Pedagógico Individual para la Inclusión [Individual Pedagogical Project for Inclusion – PPI]. The Directorate of Special Education created guidelines for preparing PPIs for pupils with disabilities in integration projects.
Act No. 27306 of 2016 set out a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to children and adults with specific learning difficulties. It establishes procedures for early detection of students with specific learning difficulties and actions to guarantee their right to education. The Act also promotes the creation of a teacher training system for early detection, prevention and curricular adaptation, and the implementation of a series of curricular adaptations so that assessment and learning processes can be tailored to the needs of each pupil.
The Ministry of Education promotes lines of action for inclusive education for the design, implementation and monitoring of actions that promote policies for inclusion by examining the diversity and vulnerability of population groups, in accordance with the provisions of the National Education Act and Act No. 26.061 of 2014 on the Comprehensive Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents.
At the federal level, Resolution No. 1664 of 2018 sought progress towards inclusive education at all educational levels for children, adolescents, youth and young adults with disabilities in the Province of Buenos Aires.
Finally, Argentina has a National Disability Plan (2017–2022) which seeks to ensure and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the mainstream education system. The plan seeks to transform education systems and other learning environments, so that teachers and students feel comfortable with diversity and perceive it not as a problem but as a challenge and an opportunity to enrich teaching and learning. It also promotes the principles of “accesibilidad universal y diseño para todos” [universal accessibility and design for all].
Article 81 of the National Education Act stipulates that the jurisdictional authorities must adopt the necessary measures to ensure that pregnant students have access to and remain in school. As such, schools should have breastfeeding rooms. Act No. 26.061 of 2014 on the Comprehensive Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents prohibits discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, maternity or paternity.
Act No. 26150 of 2006 establishes that all students have the right to receive comprehensive sex education in public, state-run and private educational establishments in national, provincial, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and municipal jurisdictions. The Act created the Programa Nacional de Educación Sexual Integral [National Programme on Comprehensive Sex Education]. Its objectives include incorporating comprehensive sex education in educational approaches, aimed at lifelong learning and at ensuring equal treatment and opportunities for men and women. The programme sets out Educar en Igualdad [Educate on Equality] days to be held in all schools in most of the country’s jurisdictions, with an accompanying “Educate on Equality” booklet. Some 40,000 copies have been distributed to all schools in the country.
The Act on the Protection of Women (2009) sought to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women. In terms of education, the Ministry of Education is responsible for developing public policies and priority actions to promote gender equity in education. Under the CFE, the Ministry must include the gender perspective, non-violence and gender equality in curricula, teaching materials and textbooks. Measures to include early detection of violence against women in teacher training plans are promoted, as well as those for the schooling of children and adolescents who are affected by a change of residence resulting from a situation of violence.
The 2018 Plan for Equal Opportunities and Rights (PIOD), prepared by the National Institute of Women together with the Ministry of Health and Social Development, sought to make gender equality a real state policy. The PIOD provides a road map for the identification, measurement and evaluation of the public policies needed to make substantive equality a reality, and a tool for mainstreaming gender policies in all social activities.
Indigenous students and ethnic and linguistic groups
The Argentine Constitution (1994) recognizes the right to bilingual and intercultural education. The Higher Education Act (1995) establishes that the national state is responsible for promoting educational inclusion policies that recognize different gender identities and multicultural and intercultural processes equally. According to data from the 2010 population census, Argentina’s indigenous population in Argentina makes up 2.4 per cent of the total population, while the Afro-descendant population makes up 0.4 per cent.
Article 52 of the National Education Act establishes intercultural bilingual education as the education system modality at the early, primary and secondary levels that guarantees the constitutional right of indigenous peoples to receive an education that helps to preserve and strengthen their cultural values, language, world view and ethnic identity; to play an active role in a multicultural world, and to improve their quality of life. Article 53 establishes legal provisions to foster the development of intercultural bilingual education.
The development of intercultural bilingual education programmes began in 2004, with programmes designed to revitalize indigenous knowledge and languages. These programmes have been implemented in provinces with many indigenous communities (in the north of the country), particularly in state schools at the early and primary levels and, to a lesser extent, at the secondary level.
People living in rural and remote areas
According to the National Education Act, rural education is the education system modality designed to ensure completion of compulsory schooling as appropriate to the needs and specificities of the rural population; and to enable the development of school organization models appropriate to each context (such as institution groupings, multi-grade classrooms and multi-age groups, institutions that cover multiple levels in the same educational unit, alternating boarding schools, itinerant schools or others that guarantee compliance with compulsory schooling and the continuity of studies in the different cycles, levels and modalities of the education system). It also aims to meet the educational needs of the rural migrant population. The Proyecto de Mejoramiento de Educación Rural [Rural Education Improvement Project – PROMER] is the main rural education programme in Argentina.
Article 80 of the National Education Act states that socioeconomically disadvantaged students must be included. The Universal Child Allowance (AUH) programme gives a monthly child allowance of about 3,000 Argentine pesos (ARS) per month. For families who have a child with a disability, this allowance is four times higher.
The Ministry of Education’s National University Scholarships Programme (PNBU) aims to promote equal opportunities in higher education by facilitating access and/or retention of students with limited economic resources and a good academic performance in undergraduate studies at national universities or university institutions. There is also a subprogramme that provides students with disabilities with access to PNBU scholarships.
Education in contexts of deprivation of liberty
The National Education Act recognizes the right to education for all persons deprived of liberty. The state must promote access to and continuance in higher education; provide a free long-distance education system; provide continual information on existing educational offerings; and contribute to the social inclusion of persons deprived of liberty through access to the educational system and cultural life.
The national state, the provinces and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires are responsible for the planning, organization, supervision and financing of the national education system. The body responsible for coordinating national education policy is the CFE, in accordance with the provisions of the National Education Act.
At the local level, the Provincial Education Act (2007) regulates teaching and learning in the Province of Buenos Aires. Article 25 of the Act determines that the province, through the General Directorate of Culture and Education, has a responsibility to provide, guarantee and supervise comprehensive, inclusive, continual and high-quality education for all its inhabitants, guaranteeing equality, free access and social justice in the exercise of this right, with the participation of the entire education community. Equality must be ensured, with respect for diversity and prevention of gender or any other type of discrimination.
The Provincial Ministries of Education and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, together with the National Ministry through the Coordinación Nacional de Educación Especial [National Coordinating Body for Special Education], have made a commitment to guarantee access to education for all children with disabilities not yet in the education system and to generate mechanisms for coordination with other ministries and state agencies that serve people with temporary or permanent disabilities (CFE Resolution No. 155 of 2011). Each jurisdiction must have a special education coordinator and dedicated technical team.
The Directorate of Special Education, attached to the Secretariat of Educational Management, is responsible for developing individual educational plans in integration projects for students with disabilities.
The Coordinación de Educación Inclusiva [Coordinating Body for Inclusive Education] comprises a range of cross-cutting programmes and lines of action and aims to intervene in the design, implementation and monitoring of actions that promote policies for educational inclusion by examining the diversity and vulnerability of population groups in accordance with the provisions of the National Education Act.
In the case of students with specific learning difficulties, the CFE is establishing a federal inter-jurisdictional coordination system to implement active policies to guarantee the right of children, adolescents and adults with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties to education (Act No. 2730 of 2016). Together with the Federal Health Council, it establishes early detection procedures for specific learning difficulties and implements comprehensive and interdisciplinary policies for the care of these students.
There is also the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI), which is a consultation and advisory body under the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights. It receives discrimination complaints and provides assistance to people who have been discriminated against.
Finally, there are non-institutional actors at the national level such as the Article 24 Group for Inclusive Education, a coalition of over 150 organizations across the country that advocates for the right to education for all people with disabilities. These organizations are members of the Regional Network for Inclusive Education (RREI).
Infrastructure and services
The National Education Act provides measures to ensure coverage of special education services and that all school buildings are physically accessible.
CFE Resolution No. 155 of 2011 promotes the design of accessible educational environments in terms of infrastructure, materials and communication with participation from people with disabilities and civil society organizations.
CFE Resolution No. 155 of 2011 establishes that in cases where students with disabilities have complex needs requiring a special school, the curriculum will be diversified to ensure access to school content, with personal support and the necessary support provisions.
Act No. 2730 of 2016 establishes the following curricular adaptation measures for students with specific learning disabilities:
- favor oral teaching and assessments
- allow extra time for homework and/or assessments
- recognize the need to adapt the means of assessment to the particular needs of each student.
In the area of gender, the curriculum guidelines for comprehensive sex education propose a systematic institutional approach to this subject that is integrated in the content and curricular development activities.
With regard to intercultural bilingual education, the National Education Act establishes that the Ministry of Education, in agreement with the CFE, shall define a mainstream curriculum that promotes respect for multiculturalism and knowledge of native cultures in all schools in the country, so that students understand and value cultural diversity as an asset to society.
Learning materials and ICT
The National Education Act states that education options based on information and communication technologies (ICT) will be developed and activities will be carried out targeted at young people and adults who are outside the education system, with the aim of integrating excluded social sectors using new educational processes.
The Plan Nacional Integral de Educación Digital [Comprehensive National Digital Education Plan – PLANIED] sought to integrate the educational community into the social digital culture, favouring teaching innovation, educational quality and socio-educational inclusion. The Aprender Conectados [”Connected Learning”] programme replaced the Conectar Igualdad [”Connecting Equality”] programme as of 2018. The latter was developed in 2010 and aimed to ensure the digital and socio-educational inclusion of all students, including students with specific learning disabilities, through universal policies of training and access to knowledge that give priority to the most disadvantaged sectors.
The Escritorio Modalidad Educación Especial [Special Education Desk] provides teaching materials, games and resources for pupils with special education needs. The state platform EDUCAR has resources (proposals and guidelines) for teachers on how to create meaningful activities for teaching and learning processes involving children with motor disabilities:
- Educación Digital Inclusiva para alumnos con discapacidad motora [Inclusive Digital Education for Students with Motor Disabilities]
- Educación Digital Inclusiva para alumnos con discapacidad auditiva [Inclusive Digital Education for Students with Hearing Disabilities]
According to the National Education Act, one of the purposes of teacher training is a commitment to equality. The National Institute of Teacher Training (INFD) and its local counterparts will promote the necessary measures to consolidate basic and ongoing training to accompany this process.
The 2016–2021 National Strategic Plan: Argentina Teaches and Learns sought to train new teachers with specific knowledge and skills to ensure that teaching processes promote high-quality learning and inclusion of students. The Ministry of Education, together with UNICEF Argentina, civil society organizations and relevant actors in inclusive education produced an education publication with the aim of providing pedagogical resources for the inclusion of students with specific learning difficulties or disabilities and gifted students, for teachers, school teams and managers, as well as families and the educational community.
Joint actions are carried out with the INFD for teacher training and professional development to build an inclusive school culture.
In the area of gender, the PIOD sought to ensure that all schools have a team of trained teachers to act as comprehensive sex education mentors.
Regarding intercultural bilingual education, some provinces have indigenous bilingual assistants (or similar), but they are not qualified to lead a class. Teacher certification can be obtained in public and private universities and in the Ministry of Education teacher training institutes of some provinces.
There appears not to be a mechanism to monitor and collect data on inclusive education in Argentina.