Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay

The following report has been drafted by Broken Chalk as a stakeholder contribution to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

  • Education in Uruguay is accessible at all levels. Public education is centrally regulated by the National Public Education Administration (CODICEN). At the same time, there is also a Ministry of Education and Culture, which partly regulates private pre-primary and tertiary education and coordinates the education system but does not formulate policies.[i]
  • Uruguayan children spend 11 years in compulsory education. The last three years of secondary education are non-compulsory, and they prepare students for higher education or provide them with vocational skills. [ii]
  • Many children attend public institutions: 86% of children in early childhood education are enrolled in public schools.[iii]
  • The gross enrolment in primary school was 104.19% in 2020, slightly higher than the world average of 102.59%, while 119.9% of children enrolled in secondary education, significantly higher than the 94.51% world average. [iv]
  • It is also notable that approximately 68% of people in Uruguay had tertiary education in 2020, which was higher than the international average of 52%.[v]
  • Broken Chalk (BC) is pleased to note that equity is becoming an ever-greater focus in Uruguayan education to ensure that children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind. The Community Teacher Programme, the Teacher + Teacher Programme, the Tutoring Project and the Education Engagement Programme all provide opportunities for schools to offer extra help to students in need.[vi]
  • BC also admires that since 2015, compulsory education starts at age 3.[vii]
  • While there are positive indicators of the performance of the Uruguayan educational system, the country’s educational sector does display issues. Problems often relate to socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination based on ethnicity.
  • In the PISA survey, Uruguayan students scored lower than the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science. Socioeconomically advantaged students not only outperform their socioeconomically disadvantaged peers by 99 points, which is above the OECD average of 89 points, but are also largely secluded in different institutions. This means a socioeconomically disadvantaged child has a mere 14% chance of attending the same school as their more affluent peers.[viii]
  • Dropout rates are also a prominent issue in Uruguay: only 45 in every 100 people between 20-23 hold a secondary education diploma, one of the worst statistics in Latin America.[ix]
  • As Uruguay ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, the state must commit to carrying out its duties and obligations, which include the insurance of equal opportunity for all children. Thus, BC urges Uruguay to address all issues which prevent the realisation of the rights set out in the Convention.

By Johanna Farkas

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[i] Santiago, P., et al. (2016), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Uruguay 2016, OECD Reviews of School Resources, OECD Publishing, Paris; 45.

[ii] Uruguay Education. “The Education System of Uruguay – Primary, Secondary and Higher.” www.uruguayeducation.info. https://www.uruguayeducation.info/education-system/education-profile.html. (Accessed August 14, 2023.).

[iii] Santiago, P., et al. (2016), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Uruguay 2016, OECD Reviews of School Resources, OECD Publishing, Paris; 49.

[iv] The Global Economy. “Uruguay Primary School Enrollment – Data, Chart.” The Global Economy. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Uruguay/Primary_school_enrollment/.; The Global Economy. “Uruguay Secondary School Enrollment – Data, Chart.” The Global Economy. (Accessed August 14, 2023.). https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Uruguay/Secondary_school_enrollment/.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Santiago, P., et al. (2016), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Uruguay 2016, OECD Reviews of School Resources, OECD Publishing, Paris; 19.

[vii] Uruguay. “National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21* – Uruguay.” Uruguay, November 2018; 15.

[viii] OECD. “Country Note: Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results from PISA 2018.” OECD, 2019. https://www.oecd.org/pisa/publications/. (Accessed August 14, 2023.): 4-5.

[ix] Cura, Daniela , Nelson Ribeiro Jorge, Martín Scasso, and Gerardo Capano. “Challenges and Opportunities for Equity in Education: Main Barriers to Accessing and Using Ceibal Tools for Children and Adolescents in Uruguay.” Ceibal and UNICEF, 2022; 7.

Cover image by Linda on Flickr.

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