Education is taken extremely seriously in Uruguay therefore the standard of teaching is very high. There are thousands of public schools in the country that are open to all, free of charge. Education in Uruguay is compulsory and teachers are encouraged to follow a comprehensive and all-encompassing syllabus that gives students the preparation they need to continue to university or begin their careers.
The national literacy rate in Uruguay is high, at 97.7%. Children go to school for a total of four hours each day, after which they are able to perform extra-curricular or recreational activities.
In recent years, the Plan Ceibal system was introduced, which provides each public school student with a personal portable computer for home and school study. Teachers are required to give students appropriate homework that can be completed on their personal computers and subsequently submitted to the teacher.
Such an advanced teaching system has enabled teachers to be more creative and innovative with their lessons. Teachers are required to teach a varied syllabus which includes core subjects such as Spanish, mathematics, geography, history and science. Subjects such as the arts are rarely taught, whilst physical education programs are inexistent in the public school system.
Teachers working in Uruguay are rarely known to encounter discipline problems, particularly for those teachers who adopt more interactive methods of teaching. Nevertheless class sizes are relatively large (some with up to 39 students per class), and public school teachers wages are notably lower than those of private school teachers.
Despite the drawbacks, Uruguay’s public school system has excelled in recent years and has an extremely positive reputation amongst other South American teaching systems. The present education system has been very successful for both teachers and students.