The limits of compulsory schooling in Buenos Aires, 1884-1915

In this article we intend to enlarged the explanatory frame concerning the reasons for the gap between the ideal conception and the effective establishment of the public instruction system in Argentina in the period that ranges from the signing of Act 1420 to the beginning of the 1910's. It is important to point out that such distance did not depend exclusively on the material constraints faced by school authorities or on the decisions of parents concerning their children attendance of school, but these very constraints were rooted in a more profound element, at the level of representations, which worked as an obstacle to the fulfillment of the supposed ecumenical vocation of schooling of Argentine elites. Actually, universalis views concerning education existed along with other which rejected the possibility and even the desirability of educating all children in public schools. This apparent contradiction was found in the discourses and practices of almost all members of the elites, including those of the advocates of "popular education". By relating the Public Education Act (Act n.1.420/1884) and the Act for Female and Child Labor Regulation (Act n.5.291/1907), we intend to verify how the very first criteria concerning which "children" could become students and which could not were established.


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