*** Argentine schools education

Argentine Schools

Figure 1.--The Vienna Choir Boys visited this Argentine private school in the 1950s. The choir boys wear a long pants uniform while many of the Argentine boys wear short pants suits.

Argentine state schools have not required school uniforms. Primary schools required children to wear white smocks, but under the smocks the chikdren could wear their own clothes. Argentina is one of the Latin American countries with the most European look. Argentine elementary school children traditionally wore white smocks--showing the Italian influence on the country and school system. While state schools did not require uniforms, private schools often did. We also note a British influence. Boys in some private schools wore short pants and kneesocks, rather like a British school.


We have limited infomation on the development of Argentine education at this time. We note two obvious influences. The smocks commonly worn in public schools seem to show an Italian influence. I'm not sure if this reflects a kind of official influence or meerly reflects the influence of Italian immigrants. We also note a British influence, especially at some private schools. We are not sure how extensive this influence was.


In Argentina, as in many Latin American countries, until 1816 the Catholic Church was in charge of education and consisted mainly of catechistic schools at the primary through tertiary levels. Schools that continued under Catholic direction until the 1880's, when a liberally oriented anti-clerical Government banned religious education in public schools. The Argentine Government in 1884 mandated that all children ages 6-12 received a free education. [national law 1420] The Government later extended free education to adults. Under the constitution all students including aliens have the right to an education. The country has achieved a high level of integration because it accepts students of any race, creed, or national origin. Compulsory attendance has since been extended to 7 years of school, ages 6-14. Schools are operated by a power-sharing arrangement between the natiinal and provincial governments. Provincial legislators under the constitution are in charge of public education. The president and his cabinet decide the numbers, kinds, and locations of schools. The Secretary of State for Culture and Education reports to the president with pertinent information pertaining to fiscal and administrative matters concerning the secretariat, programs of study and curricula, personnel policies, certification of teachers and administrators, admissions to public schools, and promotions within grades. The national budget provides funding for all federal public schools. In addition, primary schools receive additional monies from interest on bonds and permanent school funds, donations, proceeds from fines, revenues from sales of public land, and building from sight rental sales.


We do not know much about school avrivities in Srgentune schools. The classroom scenes we have noted look very traditionl, row of desks or benches facing the front of the class where the teacher's desk is located. We don't think that acrivities like sports were an important part of the Argrentune schoolm program. Rather the school activities were largely academic and classroom based school-based. In this regard the Argentine schools seem similar to Spanish and Italian schools. Hopefully Argentine readers will tell us a little about their school activities. One reader tells us that extra-curicular activities were organized at school on saturdays. We do not yet have any details as to just whay activities were offered. We do not even know if the saturday activity program was mandatory.

Figure 2.--All of the boys at this private school lined up for the photograph in the 1950s. Most private schools required uniforms.


Argentine school children commonly wear smocks. I'm not sure when that first begun, but continues into the 2000s. Other than the smock, state schools do not require uniforms. Primary children wear what ever they want under their smocks. Secondary children dress as they wish. Most private schools do require uniforms. Suits were common in the 1950s, often short pants suits worn with kneesocks. Primary children at private schools wear smocks like at the state schools, although they may be colored. Underneath they tend to wear school uniforms--often British styles.

School Levels

There are currently four levels of education in Argentina, pre-primary, primary, secondary, and teritiary. :


Pre-primary is now for children from 1 to 5 years. This has varied over time. Pre-primary education encompasses day care facilities for children from 45 days old to 2 years old and kindergarten for children from 3 to 5 years old. Kindergarten seems to be a term for pre-school for children 3-5 years. It is also referred to as educación inicial (inicial education). The Spanisg form of Kindergarten is also used, jardin maternal. It was at first mostly private schools, but over time, classes for the younger children were added to the state system. Attendance was mostly voluntary, but became compulsory for children at age 5 years. There are both state and private Kindergartens.

Primary school

Primary school is for children from 6 to 13 years. It takes 7 years. Children in primary schools wear smocks. I'm not sure when they were first introduced, but they are still common. State schools require white smocks, different styles for boys and girls. Private schools may have colored smocks. Blue is a common color. Often uniforms are worn at private schools under the smocks.

Secondary school

Secondary school is for youths from 14 to 18. It takes 5 years. There are no uniforms at state schools. Private schools often do require uniforms. Styles have varied iver time and from one school to another.


School Types

There are state (free) schools and private (fee p[aying) schools. We do not have much information on the state schools at this time. Argentina's economic problems have certainly affected the state school system. We do not have much information on uniforms at these schools. Uniforms were not commonly required in state schools, but many required the children wear white smocks. Many private schools are run by or assovciated woth the Catholic Church. Children are often sent to private schools because their parents consider that the public schools are inadequate. There are concerns with both disciplin and academiv syandards. Teachers in both have the same qualifications but the buildings aren't comfortable, there are not enough computers and the syllabuses are not up-dated. In the past there only public universities but at present there are also some private universities that are really good. We note British style uniforms and quite a number of privare schools.

Figure 3.--The children were photographed at an Argentine private school in 1977. They uniforms look very much like English school uniforms--gym slips for the girls and grey short pants for the boys.


Argentine boys have worn a variety of garments which have changed over time. Boys attending state schools did not wear suits, but HBC has only limited information on state schools at this time. Boys attending private schools through the 1950s tended to wear suits. Boys in the 1950s commonly wore short pants suits, often identical styles. Through the 1950s they were worn with kneesocks. I'm not sure to what ages boys wore short pants suits, but available images suggest at least to the early teen years. The suits look to be light-colored single breasted suits. By the 1970s suits were less common and boys might wear blazers instead of suits. Argenine primary children commonly wear smocks. I'm not sure when smocks were first implemented, but suggest the Italian influence on Argentine education. State school children wear white smocks with different styles for boys and girls. Private school children may wear blue or other colored smocks. Argentina is located at temperate southern lattitudes with cool winters, even in Buenos Aires and other areas in the north of the country. Thus sweaters are commonly worn in the cooler months. Many private schools adopting more casual uniforms by the 1980s would have the children wear colored sweaters as an every day working uniform. Argentine school children, especially at private schools, commonly wore short pants. Boys through the 1950s commonly wore short pants suits. By the 1960s many private chools were adopting English-style grey school shorts. They wee commonly worn through the 1980s, but most schools in the 1990s switched to long pants. Argentine private school children dressing formally in suits or in Englisgh style grey short pants usually wore kneesocks. Colors varied but grey and blue were the most common.


Our information on girl's school uinform in Argentina is incomplete. We note that girls like boys wore school smocks. The smocks were styled differently than the boys' smocks although younger boys wore the bck-buttoning style worn bt girls. The smocks were commonly white, but we hve also noted colored smocks. The blue and pink color conventions were used at some schools. We are unsure to what extent svhool uniforms were worn in state schools. We do notice school uniforms at private schools. We note girls wearing English style school uniforms at private schools. Gym frocks or jumpers appear to have been a popular style for the girls.popular for the

First Communion

Fist Comminion was a very important day in the life of an Argentine child, although this varied from school to school. The private Catholic schools gave special attention to First Communion. Boys from aflluent families would have special suits for the occasion. Eton suyits or white syuits were oparticularly popular. Often the class would dress alike for the occasion. By the 1980s such fancy suits had become less common. One boy at a Catholic scgool reports wearing the school uniform with a blue blazer or suit coat instead of the smock and a big white flower attached on our left arm. I wore a white short sleeve shirt, blue tie, grey short pants, blue knee socks, black high-fronted shoes and a blue blazer. Other Argentine boys wore many different clothes for First Communion. It depended a lot on social status. The poorer kids mainly wore jeans, various shoes, a shirt or a t-shirt and their white front buttoning school v neck smock. Other boys from more affluent families mainly wore short pants suits.

Individual Schools

We have very limited information on individual Argentine schools at this time. One reader tells us about his school, At. Andrews, which was a private school in Buenos Aires. The school had a uniform just like a British preparatory school. It consists of blue blazers, black leather shoes, a blue tie with yellow stripes, grey short trousers and kneescoks along with a light blue shirt. In the Winter they had a v neck jumper also. From 5th th to 7th grade of primary school short trousers become optional however from 6th grade students prefered to wear long trousers. For gym classes they required an all white uniform of t-shirt with the badge of the school stamped at the right side and cotton shorts. Hope our Argentine readers will provide us information on their schools.

Special Events

There are some special school traditions in Argenina. We notice some Argentine parents taking photographs on the first day of school. That of course is popular in many countries. There is the ceremony on the last day od primary school in which the stydenbt with the best grades over the 7 years is accirded the hnor of bearing the flag.

Personal Experiences

A few Argentine readers have provided us some information about their school experiences.

The 1970s-80s: Leonardo

My name is Leandro and I�m from Argentina. I was born in 1974, in Uruguay, but My family moved to Buenos Aires when I was about 1 and so, I went to school there. Luckily, as I came from a wealthy family, I went to a private catholic school, and I did not even realize all this was happening in my country. I thought that everything was great. Today though I was really young, I can still remember those days since March 1979 when I started kindergarten until December 1991 when I finally graduate from secondary school. I wore school uniforms since I entered kindergarten passing through primary school until I graduate but it had a small evolution and three different stages can be distinguished.

The 1980s: Catholic school uniform

I'm from Argentina and was born in 1978. As a child I lived in a little town about 100 kilometres from Buenos Aires and went to school there. I started primary school in 1983. I began school right after the disatrous Malvinas (Falklands) conflict with the British. At the time we were having a coup d'etat. As a result of military mismanagement and all the disorders the public schools were a complete disaster. They had neither teachers nor supplies to teach. As a result, my parents decided to send me to a Catholic school. At every private school, students had to wear uniforms. It consisted of: a white short sleeve shirt, blue tie, grey short pants, blue kneesocks, black high-fronted shoes and a navy blue smock. For Physical Education we wore a gym jacket, like those sweaters made of cotton and polyester but with a zip in the middle. We didn't have any caps. Children could wear anything they want short or long pants, dress or gym ones, etc. The also, however, wore obligatory white smocks. The styles were the same as ours. Boys wore frint buttoning smocks and the girls back buttoning one. The only difference was the color.

The 1980s: Moving to Mendoza

I the national educational system was directed from Buenos Aires with the purpose to supplement the provinces educational system, administrated by each province Board of Education, by having schools were a particular province didn't had one but, nevertheless, a school was needed. Mendoza, been a rich province had very few "national" schools. Those were mainly located in rural areas. I had the fortune to be part of both systems. First in the city of Mendoza during my third grade (actually, my 4th year of elementary schooling). During that year my father bought land in the mountainous region of Uspallata, a valley at the high Andes, closer to the Chilean border. The school at the village was a national one and from third grade, suddenly within a days, I found myself on the 4th grade. It was the same age level (10 yrs) but it seemed to me that I had gone older and wiser by almost overnight by been in senior level.

Careful, clicking on these will exit you from the Boys' Historical Clothing web site, but several are highly recommended

  • Apertures Press New Zealand e-Books: Appertures Press has published three different EBooks about New Zealnd schools.
  • School Uniform Web Site: Informative review of British school uniforms with some excellent photographs
  • British Preparatory Schools: A photographic book depicting life at British preparatory schools during the 1980s. Most of the schools are English or Scottish, but schools in Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ulster are also included. The pictures show the uniforms worn at many different schools.
  • British Prep School eBooks: Apperture Press has published six eBooks about different vaspects of British public schools. Volume I is a general assessnent. The other volumes deal with more specufuc aspects of the schools ahd school life.