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Education is key for a country’s long-term success, but Argentina needs to drastically improve its

educational system in order to build a skill labor force, improve the quality of human capital and

ensure students have the opportunity to develop fully and succeed at their future jobs. In most

districts over 40% of the students failed the standardized math and language tests implemented by

the Ministry of Education in 2017 and our PISA results for 2012, the last year for which we have

credible data, were 388 in math (average for OCDE countries was 494), 406 in reading (average for

OCDE countries was 501) and 406 in science (average for OCDE countries was 501). Thus, several

of the messages found in the World Development Report could be used as ideas to improve the

educational system in the country.

The significance of attendance was the first of the messages that I found important for my country.

“The ultimate barrier to learning is lack of schooling” and in Argentina both teachers and student

miss school on regular basis. In the province of Buenos Aires, for example, 67% of teachers asked

for at least one license in 2017, 11% of which lasted for over 90 days. Since the quality of teachers

is one of the determinant factors in the standard of education and what is not learned during one

year creates knowledge vacuums that will grow with the complexity of the topics that are seen

class, creating a system that measures and promotes assistance is of paramount importance. This is

particularly true because students that miss class are more likely to quit school. Indeed, missing

more than 2 classes a month in 7th grade is considered one of the best predictors of who will fail to

graduate in a study by the University of Chicago.

This can be related to another message present in the report, which is the creation of good

incentives. All stakeholders have they own interests and can exhibit rent-seeking behavior so “even

if teachers are on board with curriculum reform, students could weaken its effects if an unreformed

examination system creates misaligned incentives”. Hence, knowing what each stakeholders want

and drafting a proposal that takes this into account by giving each stakeholder the correct incentive

to perform. This is particularly important in a society in which unions are powerful and will have to

cooperate for any attempt to reform to be successful. Furthermore, in order to ensure attendance

students and their parents have to feel schooling is beneficial. Sometimes those who need school

the most end up leaving early because the opportunity cost of staying in class is to high- in many of

the poorer rural areas in Argentina, for example, there is a seasonal phenomenon in which students
leave school during the months in which harvesting takes place because jobs are available and the

benefits of the salary they could win outweighs the benefits of going to class.

A third message that I found significant for the Argentine environment is that any educational system

should take into account the specific environmental conditions in which the reform will take place.

“Context-specific innovation may mean trying things that have not been tried elsewhere” because every

educational district has it particularities and a good educational reform takes into account the needs of the

students in each district, which may differ from one another. In a country that has a strong tendency to

believe the solution to most problems lies abroad, I believe it is important to be conscious of the fact that

what work in one country does not necessarily translate successfully into a different socio-economic

context. Thus, in order to achieve the desired result reforms in other systems should be studied to analyze

what made them successful and how to apply this in your area of interest but you should also focus on the

particular needs and opportunities inherent to the area. To do this it can be important to decentralize

decision making, giving the teachers and principals who know what the children they are working with

daily need best the power to decide how to cater to them.

Another message that I found relevant to the Argentine situation is that the system as a whole should be

focused on teaching and learning, making sure students learn their lessons before continuing to more

complex topics and providing “additional inputs, including new technologies, in way that complement

rather than substitute the teachers”. The Argentine Ministry of Education spends most of its budget on

salaries but lags behind when training teachers and ensuring a meritocratic process free from patronages

takes place when hiring. Hence, any reform should be based upon improving the quality of teaching and

giving teachers the tools they need to perform well at their jobs, training them to innovate and find

approaches that work in the context in which they are teaching.

A final message found in the report that I believe would be important for Argentina is the need to “use

the measure of learning, along with the other metrics of delivery, as a gauge of whether the approach is

working”. This implies the creation of a system to measure what works and what doesn’t in order to

determine which parts of the reform should continue and which should be scaled back. In the case of

Argentina, whose government routinely fails to get improvements out of the (notably the introductions of

a one laptop per children program that ended up with the laptops barely been used and in some cases

being sold by their owners to get cash) measuring the return for investment is of paramount importance.
Since increasing financing to business as usual will just lead to more business as usual this is needed to

put money into programs that are succeeding.