Congress has a responsibility for Argentina’s educational failure.

Edgardo Zablotsky

Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago. Rector of the University of CEMA. Member of the National Academy of Education. Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso.

INFOBAE – In May 2016, I published in this same space the first of five articles arguing that it was essential to modify Article 97 of Law 26,206 on National Education in order to generate the conditions in which the government in power would have the support of indignant parents, without which it was impossible to confront the teachers’ unions, the staunchest defenders of the status quo.

Said article prevents parents from knowing how the school where their children are educated is doing, by establishing that “the policy for disseminating information about the results of the evaluations will safeguard the identity of the students, teachers and educational institutions, in order to avoid any form of stigmatization, within the framework of current legislation on the matter.”

Stigma? Of course, the identity of students and teachers must be preserved, but not that of educational institutions. It was not possible to face the tremendous situation that Argentine education was already experiencing at that time, and its mismanagement during the pandemic deteriorated even more without the active participation of parents. Making the results of the evaluations at the school level public would wake up many of them, make them angry and make them react.

It is hard to find clearer evidence than the one provided by the reopening of schools last year. Without the tireless action of organizations demanding a return to face-to-face attendance, it would have been carried out much later, given the opposition of the teachers’ unions. Remembering Winston Churchill, “never have so many owed so much to so few”.

On March 1, 2018, then-President Mauricio Macri made public, in his speech at the Opening of the Ordinary Sessions of Congress, his wish that the Legislative Branch consider the modification of article 97. In his words: “In order to get (parents) involved, we have to be able to know how the school where our children go is doing. Today laws prohibit publishing the results by school and that makes no sense. I ask that this legislative year we move forward to change this rule.” A year later, when opening the Ordinary Sessions in 2019, Macri repeated this request. It is clear that the initiative was forgotten.

Today, Congress once again has the opportunity to fulfill its role, based on the bill presented to the Chamber of Deputies on March 2 by Ricardo López Murphy, which proposes a modification to Article 97, allowing the result of school-level assessments to be published.

It is clear that if we want to face the difficult situation Argentine education is going through and how it affects the most economically disadvantaged families, it is our representatives in Congress who must assume their responsibility and take the initiative.

Many teachers are victims of the system, as are the students, and even risk their physical integrity to educate our children. Let us not forget that many of them have made superhuman efforts during the senseless closure of schools to prevent a multitude of students from abandoning their education.

Modifying article 97 of Law 26,006 is essential. Hopefully, our representatives in Congress can understand it. Education should matter to them in deeds and not only in times of fervent electoral speeches.