During his government, Juan Perón made a series of significant reforms in the field of academic and vocational education. The most important changes included expansion of educational system and making it more accessible, restructuring of school syllabus and modernization of textbooks. Apart from economic implications, the focus on the education can also be attributed to Perón’s striving to increase his support through propaganda and political socialization of youth. The foundation for subsequent reorganization of education in Argentina was laid in 1943, during the military government. The resolution issued on September, 25, 1943 identified nationalism and patriotism as important components that should be reintroduced into the system of education. When Perón came to power, he also continued the line of intermingling education wit politics. One of his fist steps was to expand the number of primary and secondary schools, while also increasing the number of students enrolled in high schools and universities. Moreover, all levels of education were free for those who qualified. Expansion of educational institutions and their larger accessibility was crucial as they were used as the forums of political indoctrination of youth, whose support would be critical for Perón in the future.
While indoctrination was taking place at all levels, the major focus of the government was on primary school students who were particularly susceptible to it. The syllabi and textbooks for primary schools were massively rewritten to serve the goals of spiritual unity. The values that the new syllabi emphasized were piety, nationalism, discipline and civility. School texts were structured according to the national doctrine with multiple references to the national goals and particular focus on rural and urban modernization. Moreover, there were elaborate patriotic scenes, marches and celebrations that helped to instill the sense of nationalism into students. Starting with the 1950s, the schools were also obliged to glorify and pay homages to Juan and Eva Peron, which reveals the gradual shift from the conceptualization of nationalism from the love of the the country to the love of the government.
The new system disrupted the tradition of secular education, which was set in Argentina in 1420, by making the Catholic doctrine the core of school education. The Catholic church was allowed to control not only state-funded schools but also to orient private education, as was revealed in 鉄tatute for Private-School Teachers. The emphasis on religious doctrine was an important mechanism of control of the population, as Christianity attaches large value to obedience and humility, while also disapproving of any revolts and rebellions. Moreover, institutionalization of Catholic education implied almost official support of Perón’s government and, hence, the recognition of its legitimacy.
One of the main priorities of Perón was technical education as he needed qualified working class to foster industrial development. In his speech on the presentation of the First Five-Year Plan, Perón emphasized that the state had to provide adequate education to all those students who had no opportunities to enroll in universities. This step had ambivalent effects as it contributed to the democratization of education to a certain extent, while also making class differences more striking.
By creating the independent Ministry of Education, Perón managed to centralize the educational system, which allowed to control it more easily. He also applied many efforts to deprive universities of their autonomy. The primary objective that he pursued this way was to undermine the power of opposition that controlled these institutions. However, universities were also crucial for Perón to integrate the whole system of education with the far-reaching goal of spiritual unity among the population. A 1947 decree mentioned that indoctrination is important at all levels of education, 妬n order to oppose deviant spiritual attitudes.
While the broadening of access to education was the positive feature of the Peronism period, it was primarily used as an indoctrination mechanism. The ultimate goal of Perón’s educational reforms was to eliminate the liberal worldview and to infuse his own political doctrine into children and teenagers, precluding any dissension. The new textbooks and syllabi placed an emphasis on nationalism and modernization, to make the population more enthusiastic about the economic development of the country. Incorporation of the Catholic doctrine was intended to legitimize the government in the eyes of the population, as well as to instill discipline and obedience into the students.
- Plotkin, Mariano Ben. Mañana es San Perón: a Cultural History of Perón痴 Argentina. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.