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Commitment to Equity in Primary Education

© Courtesy: Presidency of the Republic
Egidio Crotti, UNICEF Representative in Uruguay (right), opening the event. The President of Uruguay, José Mujica (left) was present.

Montevideo, May 2011 - With the presence of President of Uruguay, José Mujica, education authorities launched the programme APRENDER whose objectives are equal opportunities for all children to develop their skills and competencies and improve articulation between school and family. The programme has the support of UNICEF and will be implemented in public primary schools immersed in contexts of high social vulnerability. It will cover about 100,000 children, representing approximately one third of the total enrolment in public primary education.



Opening the event, UNICEF Representative in Uruguay Egidio Crotti maintained that the programme’s approach is an “important step” that will allow all children to develop their capacities.


“We at UNICEF are convinced that society cannot waste talent. We must make every effort to ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop their capacities, because every child has the right to learn,” he said.


National Director of Initial and Primary Education Oscar Gómez explained that APRENDER programme seeks to provide limitless access to knowledge for all children. “We have to focus on pedagogy, which is the strongest asset of public school, without social differences, where education is one component in the pursuit of equality,” he said. He maintained that the programme is a contribution to public policies on education and added that previous experiences on policies and programmes were taken into account in its development. “Special thanks are due to UNICEF whose technical cooperation in developing the National Budget provided a view that allowed us to consider education within a global context,” he added. He also highlighted the coordination of this programme with the CEIP (in Spanish - Consejo de Educación Inicial y Primaria) and UNICEF campaign: “Zero absence. To school everyone. Every day.”


Closing the event, President José Mujica said that teachers are currently working with old tools to deal with ‘different subjects’. “The kids of today have to be better than us. We must strive to create tools adequate for human beings that come with other things that are, at least, different from those we used to have,” concluded.



APRENDER Programme is one of the main equity policies that the Uruguayan education system will implement in the coming years and will cover 285 of the country’s 934 public schools, that have the most vulnerable social contexts with the highest repetition rates, poor attendance and dropout.


Over the next few years the programme will receive 0.34% of GDP annually, which represents almost one-third of the entire budget for public primary education.


The programme seeks to provide better educational conditions for all children. Its main objectives are:

-          Improve the learning of skills and competencies that will enable children to participate in social life with equal opportunities.

-          Promote educational activities to reduce high repetition rates.

-          Improve the relationship with the community (through the active participation of parents and strengthening the link between the school and the community).


Programmes will be implemented on:

-          Extension of teaching time.

-          Support for children with learning difficulties.

-          Early schooling for children from vulnerable social environments.

-          Strengthening the relationship between school and community, among other initiatives.

-          Continuing education for teachers


For more information:

María Victoria Blanc, mvblanc@unicef.org, UNICEF Uruguay

Soledad Acuña, sacunia@unicef.org, UNICEF Uruguay

Tamar Hahn, thahn@unicef.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean






UNICEF is on the ground in over 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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