Sunday 5 January 2014

Does education always disappoint?

Continuing my quest for good quality, legal, state sponsored and regulated marihuana in Uruguay, I have been gently enquiring whether people have been signing up at the local pharmacy. So far, no one has admitted to doing so. Instead, they gripe that Uruguay is getting known for the wrong reasons.

However, the main lament, said with great passion, is that the education system is broken. The after dinner talk is that children’s vocabularies have shrunk to the basics required for crude communication. I thought it apposite to compare Uruguay with Spain and Italy, from whence most of its citizens originally emigrated. In fact, both those Iberian nations are within measurement error of each other, but both are better than Uruguay.

              Maths     Reading   Science

Italy         485          490         494

Spain       484           488         496

Uruguay 409           411          416


In terms of trends, Spain has improved by about 2 points since the last assessment, while Uruguay has lost 1 point in Maths, and 2 in Reading and Science. Uruguay has lots of low achievers in Maths, at twice the OECD average. Something is going wrong in maths teaching. Perhaps the locals are right: an education system which was once respected and even admired has lost its way. 6 million dollars is being spent from tight educational budgets just on security to stop school windows being broken by stone throwers. Respect for teachers is waning. It is a little early to blame the Left leaning government (though many do so) and it could be due to: social media, mobile phones, over-generous social security payments, and a lapse of family and Burgher aspirations. It might even be due to free enterprise marihuana, the state sponsored version being yet to hit the streets.

It is little comfort, but Brazil and Argentina are a worse. Come to think of it, it is a great comfort. Uruguay is ahead of its large, overbearing and dysgenically dull neighbours. Scrap all the above.


  1. :) Nice sharing about Does education always disappoint.
    Stromanbieter Vergleich

  2. "to compare Uruguay with Spain and Italy, from whence most of its citizens originally emigrated. In fact, both those Iberian nations are within measurement error of each other, but both are better than Uruguay."

    Italy is not Iberian. Iberian nations = Spain and Portugal

  3. Absolutely. My apologies. I was dreaming of Portugal, but that connection is mostly with Brazil. Put it down to the 36 C heat.

  4. A significant minority of Uruguayans also came from Africa and America. As far as I know the most representative study looking at nuclear DNA markers is Hidalgo et al. (2005), which estimated the ancestral composition as 84.1% European, 10.4% Amerindian, and 5.6% African.

  5. Dear Jason, Thanks very much for this useful paper. Looks entirely credible to me. I wonder if modern work would find anything different by looking at more loci. My mother, who arrived from Scotland in the 1930s noted that most of the traffic policemen were Indian, that is Amerindian, with dark skin, prominent noses and short stature. Some faImily friends have that look, and are called "Indio" as a consequence. Africans are always called "Negro" and fat people are called "Gordo" In fact, there is no compunction about naming people correctly, and it has no particular consequence. For real hostility, particularly on the other side of the River Plate, anti-semitism is more prominent than race, as far as I can determine..

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  7. Very excellent information about education. As student one should have a healthy attitude towards learning. To be well motivated to do well in school. Thank you for this article.