Chapter 4. Towards greater equity in education in Uruguay1

Although Uruguay’s provision of basic education is strong, inequalities in the access to and quality of education, particularly within secondary schooling, remain a critical challenge. Currently, the insufficient provision of human capital and skills in Uruguay is considered one of the country’s main obstacles to growth and social inclusion. This chapter discusses these challenges and suggests measures to improve support both for the students, such as mechanisms to identify students in need of support and standardised examinations to allow for a better understanding of students’ needs, and also for the teaching profession, including measures to improve work-time flexibility, school leadership, autonomy and job-safety. Public higher education in Uruguay faces similar equity challenges, with access rates being in stark contrast to success rates. To improve overall performance, Uruguay should introduce greater autonomy to and mobility between higher education institutions, increase support for students and involve the private sector to provide students with a more technical, labour market-oriented training.

  

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

What does Uruguay’s education system look like?

Education in Uruguay is a fundamental human right, as enshrined in the General Education Law of 2008. This law stipulates 14 years of compulsory schooling, made up of two years of pre-school, six of primary education (starting at the age of six), three years of lower secondary education, and (currently) two years for upper secondary education.

The management of the education sector is highly centralised, although responsibilities are shared by several independent councils. The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for setting the general direction of national educational policies, but does not have a strong operational mandate. The agency in charge of managing the public system is the National Administration of Public Education (Administración Nacional de Educación Pública or ANEP). ANEP enjoys full autonomy and comprises several bodies of central importance for the education system: the Central Board Council (Consejo Directivo Central -CODICEN); the Council of Early and Primary Education; the Council of Secondary Education; the Council of Technical-Professional Education; and the Council of Educational Training. CODICEN is the highest administrative authority in the education sector. Its five members are appointed directly by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and are in charge of appointing the directors of the other councils. Although the other councils are subordinate to CODICEN, in practice they function autonomously. Their main task is to administer and supervise the provision of education in the country. In addition to that, the ministry co-operates with three more councils outside the CODICEN structure: the National Council for non-formal Education, the Coordination Council for Early Childhood Education and the Advisory Council for Tertiary Education. The main institution in charge of public education provision at tertiary level is the University of the Republic (Universidad de la República – UdelaR).

Public education is provided free of charge and there are no requirements for accessing any levels (including tertiary) other than graduation from the preceding level. Pre-school coverage in 2011 was close to 92%, which is higher than the international average and partly explained by considerable enrollment in privately managed institutions (27%; Table 4.1). In contrast, the secondary school network had the lowest share of private enrolment in the education system, only 16%. In 2011, the higher education institutions accommodated over 100 000 students (12% of total enrolment in education), 81% of whom attended UdelaR, the only public university in the country. That same year, public expenditure on education reached 4.4% of gross domestic product (GDP); higher than in previous years, but still lower than average education expenditure across OECD countries (6.3%). Uruguay’s share of its national wealth spent on primary and secondary education was also lower than the OECD average: at 2.7% compared to 3.9%.

Table 4.1. Basic data on education in Uruguay, 2011

Notes

Number of institutions

Students enrolled

Enrolment by type of institution (public/private)

Net enrolment rate

Teacher-student ratio

Public expenditure per level as share of GDP

Public expenditure per level as share of GDP - OECD average (5)

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

All institutions, of which

1

3 777

864 749

n.a

n.a

4.40%

6.30%

public

2 789

685 015

79.20%

private

651

127 257

14.70%

Pre-school institutions, of which

2

252

108 244

91.9.%

29

0.50%

0.60%

public

189

79 405

73.40%

m

27

private

63

28 839

26.60%

m

35

Primary schools, of which

3

2477

325 509

95.20%

13

1.30%

3.90%

public

2074

273 440

84%

m

15

private

403

52 069

16%

m

7

Secondary schools, of which

4

930

272 535

74.40%

7

1.40%

m

public

588

230 153

84.40%

m

m

private

342

42 382

15.60%

m

m

Initial VET schools (lower and upper secondary)

118

57 158

Tertiary institutions, of which

m

101 303

m

n.a

1.10%

1.60%

public

m

81 774

80.70%

m

n.a

private

m

19 529

19.30%

m

n.a

n.a

Notes: 1. Column 1: excluding post-secondary and tertiary institutions. 2. Excluding early childhood institutions.3. Excluding institutions for children with special educational needs. Column 7: primary and secondary education combined. 4. Excluding Ciclo Básico Rural. 5. Data from 2010.

Sources: MEC (2012, 2013), Anuario Estadístico de Educación; OECD (2013a), Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2013-en.

Schools need a greater focus on equity

What do the PISA results tell us?

Uruguay’s regionally good performance in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) was a recurrent theme both during the desk research for this chapter on education, and during the site visits that followed. The most recent PISA results (2012), however, deliver a mixed message (OECD, 2014e). In 2012, Uruguay’s 15-year-olds achieved a mean score of 409 points in mathematics, 411 points in reading, and 416 points in science. This positions Uruguay among the top three countries in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region (along with Chile and Mexico).2 Yet, it is still below the OECD average scores in all three subjects (OECD averages: 494 in mathematics, 496 in reading and 501 in science). Student achievement in reading and mathematics in 2012 had also fallen from 2009, when Uruguay achieved the highest score in mathematics of all the LAC countries participating in OECD’s assessment.

While performance matters, so too does the price that has to be paid for it. Uruguay’s disparities in performance among students are greater than in any other country in the LAC region and are, for the most part, associated with the socio-economic background of schools and their students. The strength of the relationship between student background and performance seems to go hand in hand with the large disparities in income distribution that are common in Uruguay (Figure 4.1). The graph distributes national school systems according to their countries’ levels of income inequality (measured as the Gini coefficient) and their relationship between student performance and socio-economic background. Countries with high levels of income inequality and a strong link between student performance and socio-economic background are in the upper-right corner. In Uruguay in 2012, this relationship was the third-strongest of all economies that participated in PISA; 74% of the difference in student achievement between schools was associated with differences in the socio-economic background of their students.

Figure 4.1. High income inequality and the strong link between socio-economic background and performance
picture

Note: According to World Bank definition the Gini index of 0 represents perfect equality, while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality. Arithmetic mean for Latin American average.

Source: OECD calculations based on PISA 2012 database www.oecd.org/pisa/, and World Bank (2015), World Development Indicators, http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators.

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933330244

There is a great deal of awareness of this challenge; all education reforms in Uruguay since the 1990s have attempted to target inequities in education. This is a commendable choice of priority – not only for reasons of fairness, but also because education quality cannot be improved without simultaneous improvements in equity (OECD, 2010a) (see Box 4.1). Efforts included directing services and compensation to underprivileged children, for example by extending pre-school coverage; financing school outreach programmes to increase enrolment in secondary education; providing more hours of instruction for students from weak economic backgrounds; and introducing Full Time Schools – these initiatives are discussed in more detail later in the section (Benveniste, 2000).

Despite these efforts, it seems that the socio-economic disparities of Uruguayan society continue to be replicated in the classrooms to the detriment of a worryingly high share of students. In 2012, almost 56% of the secondary school population performed below proficiency Level 2 in PISA (OECD, 2014a). Level 2 could be judged the baseline level at which students begin to demonstrate the competencies in mathematics that will enable them to participate effectively and productively in education and employment.3 Results from longitudinal studies in Australia, Canada, Denmark and Switzerland show that students who perform below Level 2 often face severe disadvantages in their transition into employment and higher levels of education in subsequent years (OECD, 2012a). Students who perform below this baseline proficiency level can thus be considered a critical group with a limited learning and employment outlook later in life.

Box 4.1. What is equity in education?

Equity in education has two dimensions. The first is fairness, which implies ensuring that personal and social circumstances – for example gender, socio-economic status or ethnic origin – are not an obstacle to an individual achieving their educational potential. The second is inclusion, which implies ensuring a basic minimum standard of education for all – for example that everyone should be able to read, write and do simple arithmetic. The two dimensions are closely intertwined: tackling school failure helps to overcome the effects of social deprivation which often causes school failure.

Source: Field, S., M. Kuczera and B. Pont (2007), No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education, Education and Training Policy, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264032606-en.

Why do schools in Uruguay persistently fail to provide equal opportunities to all their students, despite the good intentions?

Attitudes of education professionals towards the potential for success of their students can have a powerful effect (OECD, 2010b). In education systems where teachers and schools are required to embrace the diversity of their student population and adopt more personalised approaches to student learning, outcomes4 tend to be better and distributed more equitably (OECD, 2010a) than in countries where lower achieving students are believed to have a predetermined path and receive limited support. The site visits for the education chapter of this report included interviews with a broad selection of counterparts involved in (or with a stake in) education in Uruguay. While caution is needed in generalising, a recurring theme in these interviews was that success (and failure) in public education is considered to be the responsibility of the individual student, rather than of his or her school. Schools and teachers on the other hand are in charge of communicating knowledge and are less responsible for preventing academic failure.

While in practice the public education system guarantees access to education at all levels, in fact educational success seems to be left entirely to the students and their families. Consequently, those households that can afford to do so invest in individualised support and more conducive learning environments for their children. This largely involves enrolling them in private schools: socio-economically advantaged students in Uruguay are 2.5 times more likely to attend privately managed education institutions than students from backgrounds that are similar to the national average. They are also more likely to have tutoring activities or other forms of student support (Avendano et al. 2016). Of all 74 economies that participated in PISA in 2009,5 only Panama had a higher likelihood that students would be educated privately (3.2 times more likely than the average) (OECD, 2012b).

This additional household investment pays off. Table 4.2 compares the gap in reading performance for students in the top (90th) percentiles of the performance distribution in PISA in 2012 with the median score6 for each country. It suggests that Uruguay’s achievement gap between students at the top of the PISA scale and those that are only average is the 13th largest of all economies participating in PISA in 2012.

Table 4.2. Difference in reading performance between the top (90th) percentile and the median for each PISA participating economy, 2012

All students

Mean score

90th percentile

Score points difference to mean

Mean

S.E.

Score

S.E.

Score

OECD

Australia

512

(1.6)

634

(2.3)

122

Austria

490

(2.8)

603

(2.5)

114

Belgium

509

(2.3)

633

(2.3)

124

Canada

523

(1.9)

638

(2.6)

115

Chile

441

(2.9)

541

(3.3)

100

Czech Republic

493

(2.9)

604

(3.8)

111

Denmark

496

(2.6)

602

(2.8)

106

Estonia

516

(2.0)

618

(2.8)

102

Finland

524

(2.4)

639

(2.5)

115

France

505

(2.8)

639

(3.9)

133

Germany

508

(2.8)

621

(3.2)

113

Greece

477

(3.3)

597

(3.9)

120

Hungary

488

(3.2)

603

(3.9)

115

Iceland

483

(1,8)

602

(2,4)

119

Ireland

523

(2,6)

631

(3,2)

108

Israel

486

(5,0)

624

(4,5)

138

Italy

490

(2,0)

609

(2,2)

119

Japan

538

(3,7)

658

(4,4)

120

Korea

536

(3,9)

640

(4,0)

104

Luxembourg

488

(1,5)

620

(2,3)

132

Mexico

424

(1,5)

525

(1,9)

102

Netherlands

511

(3,5)

625

(3.6)

114

New Zealand

512

(2.4)

645

(4.0)

133

Norway

504

(3.2)

627

(3.9)

123

Poland

518

(3.1)

626

(4.8)

108

Portugal

488

(3.8)

604

(3.5)

116

Slovak Republic

463

(4.2)

591

(5.2)

128

Slovenia

481

(1.2)

598

(2.5)

117

Spain

488

(1.9)

601

(2.3)

113

Sweden

483

(3.0)

614

(4.2)

131

Switzerland

509

(2.6)

622

(3.2)

113

Turkey

475

(4.2)

588

(6.8)

112

United Kingdom

499

(3.5)

619

(3.8)

120

United States

498

(3.7)

614

(4.0)

116

OECD total

495

(1.1)

618

(1.2)

123

OECD average

496

(0.5)

613

(0.6)

117

Partners

Albania

394

(3.2)

536

(3.4)

142

Argentina

396

(3.7)

516

(4.4)

120

Brazil

410

(2.1)

520

(3.0)

110

Bulgaria

436

(6.0)

585

(6.1)

149

Colombia

403

(3.4)

509

(4.5)

106

Costa Rica

441

(3.5)

536

(5.0)

95

Croatia

485

(3.3)

593

(4.9)

108

Hong Kong-China

545

(2.8)

648

(3.4)

103

Indonesia

396

(4.2)

492

(6.1)

96

Jordan

399

(3.6)

510

(4.6)

111

Kazakhstan

393

(2.7)

487

(3.5)

94

Latvia

489

(2.4)

593

(2.8)

105

Liechtenstein

516

(4.1)

630

(10.6)

114

Lithuania

477

(2.5)

585

(3.1)

108

Macao-China

509

(0.9)

611

(1.6)

102

Malaysia

398

(3.3)

503

(4.3)

105

Montenegro

422

(1.2)

540

(3.4)

118

Peru

384

(4.3)

504

(6.4)

120

Qatar

388

(0.8)

535

(2.3)

147

Romania

438

(4.0)

555

(5.3)

117

Russian Federation

475

(3.0)

592

(4.2)

117

Serbia

446

(3.4)

566

(4.6)

120

Shanghai-China

570

(2.9)

667

(3.5)

97

Singapore

542

(1.4)

668

(3.2)

126

Chinese Taipei

523

(3.0)

633

(3.6)

110

Thailand

441

(3.1)

541

(4.4)

100

Tunisia

404

(4.5)

515

(5.6)

111

United Arab Emirates

442

(2.5)

562

(3.1)

120

Uruguay

411

(3.2)

534

(4.1)

122

Viet Nam

508

(4.4)

599

(5.0)

91

Note: S.E. stands for Standard Error, which is the standard deviation of the mean’s estimate.

Source: OECD PISA 2012 database, Table I.4.3a, http://pisa2012.acer.edu.au/.

The children of those families who cannot afford to invest in remedies and support are most likely to repeat school years. The self-reported repetition rate among students in Uruguay in 2012 was close to 25% in lower secondary education, the fifth-highest in the PISA world after Spain and Macao-China, Tunisia, Colombia and Argentina (Figure 4.2). Across OECD countries, on average, 5% of students who participated in PISA in 2012 reported they had repeated a lower secondary grade, although in some countries grade repetition was non-existent, for example in Japan, Malaysia, Norway and Turkey. Over 95% of students in 21 other OECD countries reported they had never repeated a grade in lower secondary education (OECD, 2014b).

Figure 4.2. Repetition rate in lower secondary education, selected PISA economies, 2012
Results based on students’ own responses
picture

Note: Percentage of students reporting that they have repeated a grade once in lower secondary school.

Source: OECD calculations based on PISA 2012 database, Table IV.2.18, http://pisa2012.acer.edu.au/.

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933330255

Those students who do not have the means or the resilience to cope with the motivational and financial shock of repetition, drop out. Household surveys suggest that by the end of secondary school this would be the fate of almost 70% of the repeating students: in 2011 only 34% of the population aged 18 to 23 had completed secondary schooling (see also Filardo and Mancebo, 2013).

What makes academic survival in secondary education a challenge for such a large share of the student population? This question is commonly tackled through a discussion of out-of-school factors such as poverty or family background, and their influence on student achievement. The following sections offer a complementary, more systemic view by taking a closer look at the schools instead, in particular at their capacity to identify students who struggle academically and provide them with individualised attention and support. The focus of analysis is on how student achievement is assessed and on the conditions in which secondary schooling (teaching and learning) takes place. Shortcomings in these two areas are likely to be among the main factors preventing public education in Uruguay from fulfilling the full potential of all students.

Student assessment approaches are variable

Student assessment involves the planned and systematic collection of evidence of learning (EPPI, 2002). It may be designed and implemented internally by the school or externally through standardised assessments, either to record and certify achievements (assessment of learning or “summative assessment”), or to identify aspects of learning in order to better shape subsequent instruction (assessment for learning or “formative assessment”) (OECD, 2013b). Student achievement in Uruguay is currently assessed both externally and internally, but the type, reliability and purpose of assessments in primary education are different to those in secondary level.

Assessment in primary education

Assessment in primary education combines summative and formative elements, and standardised external assessments (both census and sample-based7) are quite common. The latest external assessment – the 6th National Learning Assessment of Grade 6 (the last year of primary school) – was carried out in November 2013. This assessment has been conducted regularly since 1996. The tests usually include multiple choice and open-ended questions in mathematics, science and reading, complemented by questionnaires on the socio-economic background that are completed by teachers, principals, students and families. The questionnaires focus on both in-school variables (such as infrastructure and facilities, human resources, etc.) and out-of-school factors (such as housing conditions, material and cultural goods, parents’ levels of education, etc.) (Ferrer, 2006).

All assessments deliver information on learning outcomes and factors that influence performance, but in primary education in Uruguay their architecture and results are also meant to help and inspire teachers to develop their own tests, to work with peers in analysing and learning from test results, and to draw from a rich pool of test items that are accessible online.8 ANEP’s assessment platform (SEA – Sistema de Evaluación de Aprendizaje) suggests that the online database can be used to develop customised tests, diagnostic evaluations and, importantly, for formative assessment purposes in which students’ responses are used to identify problems with learning and determine corresponding adjustments in teaching, rather than to mark success or failure (Box 4.2).

Box 4.2. Promoting formative assessment in primary education in Uruguay

“Uruguay has always recognised the use of assessment as a process to improve teaching. For the past four years, Uruguay has been developing an education system based on an online learning assessment system for students in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades, in the subject areas of reading, mathematics and sciences, leveraging the Ceibal Plan (which provides a computer for each child and teacher in the public education system, for their personal use, connected to the Internet).

It is an education-based assessment, which provides teachers with a different perspective to complement their own assessments to analyse students’ progress. This online assessment system works with portals: one for teachers and another one for students. The teachers’ platform permits access to applicable tests for the grade that the teacher covers, and then applies these tests. Each test activity has accompanying theoretical materials that underpin the logic behind the assessments in each area. For each activity, these describe what is being assessed, and what hypotheses may be behind each of the incorrect answers that students could give. These materials serve to shed light on bases of and principles behind the test. Immediately after the assessment is conducted, the teacher can access the test and the results for use as tools in the classroom.

The platform permits both multiple choice questions and longer, constructed answer questions, which the teacher then marks in accordance with a marking scheme. There are plans to implement adaptive tests to replace single, monolithic assessments in 2013, whereby the system uses each student’s answers to suggest activities in line with their skills; innovation is a vital aspect in making progress towards personalising teaching.

This allows online assessments to become a permanent support resource to allow teachers to enhance continuing improvement in learning achievement. . .”.

Source: Interview with Andrés Peri, National Co-ordinator in Uruguay of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2013.

A new cycle of formative assessments was carried out in June 2013 with this in mind; it mobilised the participation of over 100 000 students who took around 226 000 tests: 71 577 in science, 78 157 in mathematics, and 76 074 in reading (SEA, 2013). The results have been processed and made available to the participating teachers and schools in time to support their individual guidance planning for students at the beginning of the new school year. While the use of this information is not obligatory and the way it is used can vary from school to school, from teacher to teacher, and from year to year, it nevertheless provides reliable, externally validated data that can help determine early on how individual students are faring academically so that appropriate teaching and learning strategies can be devised.

This practice is consistent with assessment practices that are linked to better student performance across OECD countries. According to PISA, those OECD countries that use standards-based external examinations tend to perform better, even after accounting for national income (OECD, 2010b). In OECD countries there is a growing interest in particular in using evaluation results for formative purposes, and school leaders, teachers and policy makers are increasingly using results to identify areas where students and schools are performing well, and where they may need to improve (OECD, 2013b).

Assessment in secondary education

The assessment practices in secondary schools in Uruguay are, unfortunately, quite different from those used in primary. The only student assessment applied at secondary level is developed and administered by classroom teachers. PISA data for 2009 suggested that 96% of students in Uruguay attend schools where teachers’ own judgemental ratings are the predominant form of assessment, followed by teacher-developed tests (85%) and homework (75%) (OECD, 2010b). The principals of schools attended by 98% of these students noted that the main aim of this assessment was to support decisions about retention or promotion; for 96% of them it was also to inform parents about the child’s progress (OECD, 2010b).

Countries across the OECD have long-standing traditions of teacher-developed assessment and historically attribute high importance to their professional judgement. These assessments are frequently guided by national or sub-national assessment policy frameworks that specify classroom assessment procedures and objective criteria (OECD, 2013b). In the absence of such frameworks and criteria, however, teachers have to resort to more subjective, classroom and school-specific norms, for example comparisons of each student’s achievements with those of other students in the same class or in an otherwise defined group. Such “norm-referenced” assessments are common practice in Uruguay and, as elsewhere, have many disadvantages. “Norms” depend on individual factors (i.e. on the teacher and on the quality of the student intake) and can vary from year to year, between teachers in the same subject and even between classes in the same year of the same school. Hence, even when teachers are highly experienced and try to be as fair as possible in their assessments, there can be no assurance that the same mark indicates the same level of student performance between different students, classes and schools and that it provides a clear enough picture of the knowledge and skills acquired by students. Without objective criteria as a reference, such marks are not suitable for tracking students’ successes or failures over time, identifying knowledge and skills gaps (Melguizo and Perea, 2016), or communicating reliable information on success and failure (including decisions about repeating a year) to parents or students (OECD, 2013b; OECD, 2014c).

Uruguay is not alone in this. OECD analysis of PISA data and responses to additional questionnaires found that schools and teachers in other countries systematically reward certain student characteristics that are unrelated to learning. For example, after accounting for students’ reading proficiency and attitudes to learning in all countries and economies that participated in PISA in 2009, girls and socio-economically advantaged students were receiving higher marks than their peers (OECD, 2012c).

To compensate for the shortcomings of norm-referenced classroom assessments, OECD countries complement them with external standardised examinations. In most countries these exams are more common at higher levels of education, where the stakes of success and failure are also higher (OECD, 2013b). Another common remedy is the introduction of appropriate methods of “criteria-based assessment” in which students’ achievements are assessed against clearly defined, collectively developed criteria that are known in advance to all participants of the process (teachers, students, their parents, school administrators) and are likely to be more transparent and fair to students (OECD, 2014c). This is in line with lessons learned from experiences with marking practices in OECD countries, which suggest that those that include “communication of clear and useful information with the purpose of promoting learning” and resort to marks based on “clear and specific criteria measuring achievement against pre-established goals” are very effective (OECD, 2012c). Teachers at all levels of education are also increasingly expected to take responsibility not only for summative, but also for other forms of assessment (i.e. formative) (OECD, 2013b; Box 4.3).

Box 4.3. Internal formative assessment in OECD countries

Given the widely reported benefits of formative assessment for the improvement of teaching and learning, many OECD education systems have developed policy frameworks (national or state laws or regulations) to promote and support formative assessment practice in the classroom.

The frameworks generally include a requirement for schools to implement formative assessment in the classroom. In Australia (ISCED 2 and 3 only), Korea and Mexico, they also include a requirement for formative assessment to be part of initial teacher education programmes. In Korea, there is also a requirement for teachers to undertake professional development in this area. In Estonia, it is mandatory for schools to report on their strategies to promote formative assessment. In Spain, the regulations are most extensive including a requirement for schools to implement student formative assessment and to report on their strategies to promote it, as well as for student formative assessment to be part of initial teacher education programmes and for teachers to undertake professional development in this area.

In some education systems, while formative assessment is not inscribed in national or state education law, it is promoted through other documents. In the Flemish Community of Belgium, primary schools are required to monitor the progress of every student and report observations to parents, but there are no specific regulations regarding the procedures for doing so. In Hungary, elements of formative assessment, such as verbal assessment and differentiated assessment methods, are included in legal regulations and the national core curriculum.

Sources: OECD (2013b), Synergies for Better Learning. An International Perspective on Evaluation and Assessment, OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264190658-en; OECD (2014d), PISA 2012 Results: Excellence through Equity (Volume II): Giving Every Student the Chance to Succeed, PISA, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264201132-en.

In Uruguay, the information gaps caused by the limitations in teacher classroom assessment are filled by information collected through regular and rigorous school inspections. The inspections are carried out by experienced staff (former school principals) of the School Inspectorate – a powerful institution which acts as intermediary between the public schools and the ANEP National Administration of Public Education and which is in charge of assessing the work of teachers, principals and schools (Bogliaccini, 2006). Schools are required to design and administer initial, mid-year and final exams in mathematics and languages at all grade levels, and inspectors must report on student test scores and specify the percentage of students that can master specific academic requirements (Benveniste, 2000). In addition, inspectors carry out their own institutional assessments which look beyond academic achievement to various aspects of school operation. They use this information to develop a detailed school profile and plan for institutional improvements. Since these evaluations differ from inspector to inspector and from school to school, their results are not comparable, however.

Reports and our site visits suggest that the work of the school inspectors is highly respected for its quality and importance, and that schools’ development outlook depends on it to a large extent. It is very concerning, however, to note that schools and teachers also rely on these evaluations for decisions related to academic performance and – in some cases – the academic survival of students. No matter how good they might be, these evaluations of schools and their staff are carried out from an institutional perspective; they are not a substitute for a proper, “day-to-day” evaluation of student progress and needs. Considering what is at stake, this and the broader policy area of student assessment in secondary education, need urgent attention. Their shortcomings are crippling the capacity of secondary schools to identify students in need of support and to communicate reliable information about this need for designing appropriate interventions.

Schooling conditions could be improved

Teaching status and remuneration are low

Identifying and supporting struggling students is not only a matter of adequate assessment; it also requires that schools have the capacity to react to assessment findings, for example by improving responsiveness to the learning needs of an increasingly diverse student population. The socio-economic diversity of students in public education in Uruguay is particularly large. In 2012 the range between the most advantaged and disadvantaged students was the 8th largest of all the countries participating in PISA (Figure 4.3) (OECD, 2014d).

Figure 4.3. Diversity in students’ socio-economic background
picture

Note: Diversity denotes the relationship between a school’s socio-economic intake and student performance, according to the decomposition of the gradient of the PISA Index of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS).

Source: OECD calculations based on PISA 2012 database, http://pisa2012.acer.edu.au/.

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In countries like Uruguay where this gap is wide, schools are confronted with the double challenge of accommodating such a diverse student body, whilst also addressing the needs of the numerous students that are at the bottom end in terms of status and achievement (OECD, 2010a). The organisation of teaching and learning in Uruguay does not seem to be favourable in this respect and prevents schools from giving many of these students the amount of attention they require.9

The first and most striking limitation is the low status of the teaching profession (in terms of attractiveness and recognition) in Uruguay. This is despite the internationally acknowledged link between the status of the profession, education quality and student learning.10 The average salaries of secondary school teachers in Uruguay are 17% lower than those of professionals and technicians with comparable qualifications in other sectors of the economy. This is lower than in all other countries in Latin America (apart from Nicaragua: Table 4.3).

Table 4.3. How secondary school teachers’ salaries compare with other professionals and technicians

Country

Relative earnings (%)

Year of reference

Mexico

23.1

2008

Honduras

21.6

2007

Ecuador

10.2

2006

Panama

4.1

2007

Chile

-5.3

2009

El Salvador

-7.0

2009

Brazil

-10.1

2008

Uruguay

-16.9

2007

Nicaragua

-59.1

2005

Notes: Data for latest year available. Data for all countries except Uruguay are based on household surveys with national coverage. Survey coverage in Uruguay was limited to urban areas.

Source: Mizala, A. and H. Ñopo (2011), Teachers’ Salaries in Latin America: How Much Are They (Under or Over) Paid?.

Of all the resources that countries spend on education, the only stand-alone area of investment found to be significantly and positively correlated with student performance (as measured by PISA) is the level of teachers’ salaries relative to national income (OECD, 2010b). In Uruguay, even after 15 years in the profession, teachers in public secondary schools only earn around half of the national average per capita income – the lowest share of earnings in proportion to GDP per capita of all countries for which data exist, and the lowest of countries at the same level of economic development as Uruguay (Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4. How mid-career teacher salaries in secondary education compare with GDP per capita, 2012
picture

Source: OECD calculations based on PISA 2012 database, http://pisa2012.acer.edu.au/.

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This OECD review does not intend to make statements on the appropriateness of teacher wages in Uruguay (or elsewhere). Neither will it argue in favour of or against unconditional wage increases – a very sensitive and difficult issue in OECD and non-OECD countries alike. Instead, it places the wage debate within a broader discussion of the package of measures that can ensure better quality education for all students, rather than as an isolated issue distinct from other education policy challenges. A key question in this context is: how does the current level of pay influence the teaching profession and the practices of professionals working in the public education system?

Clearly, the attractiveness of teaching in Uruguay seems modest compared to other professional alternatives (at least in terms of pay). Discussions with authorities during the site visits revealed that the country’s positive employment climate makes it easy for university graduates, including those from the teacher training colleges, to find better paid jobs outside the education sector. In fact, for years now the share of university graduates teaching in Uruguay’s secondary schools has been strikingly low. According to figures communicated by the Council of Educational Training (Consejo de Formación en Educación) during the site visits, in 2012 up to 70% of secondary school teachers were senior year students with no graduate degree. Some of them were not even enrolled in pre-service teacher training. Upon finishing their studies, the vast majority of these teachers commonly leave the schools in pursuit of better job offers. In turn, the teaching engagement delays many of them from completing their studies. Those who continue teaching for longer are likely to be those experiencing difficulties (or who are lacking time) in completing their studies.

While the better-off schools (private schools) also recognise this problem, they have the means to address it. According to PISA, advantaged schools are significantly more likely to have a higher share of certified teachers in their full-time teaching staff than other schools (OECD, 2014b). This is the case of Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

Research findings confirm that in times of stronger economic development and low graduate unemployment, fewer graduates choose to become and remain teachers (OECD, 2005) – although not as few as in Uruguay. Indeed, the higher salaries offered in other sectors can have a significant influence on graduates’ decision to become a teacher (see Santiago, 2004). However, non-income related factors in some countries – such as the desire to teach, the enjoyment of working with children, and the satisfaction of seeing students achieve – can play a more important role than salaries or career prospects in decisions to join the profession (OECD, 2005); for example, see Figure 4.5.

Figure 4.5. Most important motivations for becoming a teacher in Australia, 2002
picture

Note: Figures are based on a survey of 2 500 teachers from government and non-government schools, in metropolitan and non-metropolitan Australia, and from primary and secondary schools.

Source: OECD calculations based on Ministerial Council on Education of Australia (2003), Demand and Supply of Primary and Secondary School Teachers in Australia.

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These findings are a reminder that teaching is not only a profession, but also a vocation. The committed teachers in some of the public secondary schools visited by the OECD (all of them operating in highly disadvantaged areas), offer daily proof of this statement. These schools had impressive rates of teacher and student retention despite their difficult working conditions. Such examples are, however, an exception. Elsewhere, teaching is downgraded to a sideline job for university students, marked by high turn-over rates and shortages of experienced, certified teachers who could act as mentors and sources of inspiration and peer guidance.

Another limitation linked to the current level of teacher compensation is the widespread practice of teaching more than one shift, in some cases up to three shifts a day, six times a week. In addition, these shifts take place often in different schools. It is understandable that the absence of sufficient financial rewards and recognition provides teachers with a strong incentive to work more hours. The current regulations also permit them to do so. Yet, this extraordinary workload has concerning side effects. Firstly, it leaves the teaching staff with very little time (if any) to prepare lessons. Secondly, it limits teachers’ opportunities to exchange and reflect on their work, which undermines staff improvement (Box 4.4). Thirdly, the multiple teaching assignments (over)expose the teachers to very high student numbers, which can easily reach several hundred a day. In circumstances like these it is unrealistic to expect individualised or even basic attention to students’ needs. This overload also renders impossible the introduction of fairer or state-of-the-art assessments, let alone the constructive use of their results.

Box 4.4. Peer learning among teachers

Studies of high-performance organisations indicate that most learning occurs informally. Such organisations seek to maximise opportunities for staff to interact and learn from one another, as well as with external sources of research and information, and try to develop ways for learning to be cumulative and more readily accessible to all members of the organisation.

There are examples of how professional development activities are being used to encourage ongoing informal learning in schools. A key strategy is to encourage teachers to become more inquiring, reflective practitioners, and to do so in collaboration with colleagues.

The peer collaboration, joint reflection and learning among teachers (including from the same school) has emerged as a valuable, affordable, school-based resource of professional development and support. Across the OECD study teams, peer reflective groups and peer coaching are becoming more and more common. These allow teachers to work together, continuously examine their assumptions and practices, and jointly develop strategies and solutions to problems.

Sources: OECD (2005), Teachers Matter: Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers, Education and Training Policy, p. 130, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264018044-en; Guiney, E. (2001), “Coaching Isn’t Just For Athletes: The Role of Teacher Leaders”, Phi Delta Kappan, 82(10), 740-743.

Inequality in learning conditions affects performance

It would be unfair and only partially correct to blame student failure only on problems associated with the teaching profession. Another set of important factors within the remit of the education authorities are the conditions in which teaching (and learning) takes place. Countries can influence learning outcomes by shaping these conditions to make them more conducive to learning, for example by providing organisational arrangements that promote better teacher-student relations, better disciplinary climates and better working environments for teachers (OECD, 2010b).

According to the PISA index of quality of school resources, 34% of the variation in student performance in Uruguay is attributable to the combined impact of better-off students in schools with more favourable arrangements11 in terms of class size and/or instruction time, participation in after-school lessons, availability of extracurricular activities, teachers and material resources. Among the factors that mattered most12 for better results was the time that the better-off schools in Uruguay allocate to additional instruction (enrichment lessons) (OECD 2010b, Table IV.2.12b).

Discussions during the site visits with teachers and students attending private education institutions suggested that the added value of more time for in-depth learning is not limited to better understanding, assimilation and handling of curriculum content, but also includes the benefits of students’ longer exposure to the same teachers, which allows for a more personal approach to each student.

Another factor with a positive impact in the better-off (private) schools is their greater autonomy to adjust curricula and assessments to their and their students’ needs. After socio-economic background is accounted for, curriculum and assessment autonomy as well as the form of management of the school (private) are the only two governance domains13 that remain positively associated with learning outcomes.

Systemic failures need to be addressed

Even so, the better and/or private schools are not entirely problem-free. While more socio-economic advantaged education institutions tend to have a better learning environment and access to better educational resources, no matter how favourable their learning conditions, all schools in Uruguay, public and private, count on the same teachers trained in the same teacher training institutions, follow the same curricula, use the same learning materials and usually apply similar teaching methods. While more resources and a better learning environment do make a difference, their impact on the quality of learning outcomes remains more modest in comparison to better-off schools in other countries. The slope of the socio-economic gradient between schools (how much better an average student would fare if he/she were in a better school) suggest that a “better” school in an OECD average has a higher positive impact on the performance of a hypothetical average student than a “better” school in Uruguay (OECD, 2010a). This suggests that some of the current limitations in Uruguay’s secondary school system cannot be remedied by throwing more resources at individual schools – instead they might require system level solutions.

Existing initiatives show promise

The authorities are aware of those factors and conditions favourable to student success and retention, and are investing in projects to replicate these conditions throughout the public education system. Some of these projects are recent and in the process of being introduced (such as the Tránsito programme to support the transition from the sixth grade of basic education into the first grade of secondary education). Others, such as the Full Time School model (Escuela de Tiempo Completo) and the Compromiso Educativo (see the next section on higher education) are well established pilots that are waiting to be scaled up nationwide. The usefulness of all of these important activities will depend on the mobilisation of political will to handle the considerable cost (monetary and time-related) of introducing them in all public schools in the country.

Probably the most promising, but also most expensive, of these initiatives is the Full Time School pilot (Escuela de Tiempo Completo, launched in 1998 as part of a multiannual reform effort to improve quality, equity and efficiency in public education. Initially all of these schools were located in socio-economically disadvantaged areas with the aim of providing an educational and socialisation context for children at risk and allowing teachers to devote time to them beyond the duration of a standard, one-shift school day. The initiative is driven by the motto “All children can learn” and the schools are supplied with additional material resources, technical and teacher support. These schools soon began to out-perform other schools in national assessments and established themselves as the “flagships of reform”. In the first six years of the pilot their numbers almost doubled to around 200 (Bogliaccini, 2006). The key to student success in these pilot institutions is considered to be the availability and flexibility of teachers’ time to devote to working with students and the fact that they can spend their working day in one school instead of several.

Another promising initiative is the Community Classroom Programme (PAC), launched in 2007 by the Secondary Education Council in co-operation with the Infamilia Programme of the Ministry of Social Development. The aim of PAC is to help young people aged 12-16 who have dropped out of school to get back into formal education. The programme is built around six subjects in the first semester and five in the following semester, instead of the 11 subjects taught throughout the entire year in the traditional secondary school system. PAC also offers workshops in areas like music and art. The success of the programme is attributed to the more personalised attention received by the students, as well as the efforts to involve their families in order to gain their support (Bianchi, 2013). If the efforts to improve survival and success rates in regular secondary schooling start to show positive results, however, this programme will eventually become unnecessary.

Last but not least, Uruguay has recently established the National Institute of Educational Assessment (Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa – INEED) to assess early, primary and secondary education. INEED is an autonomous, public, non-state organisation that may have the potential to overcome the fragmentation in the governance of the education system by supplying evidence and analysis on the functioning of the system as a whole. INEED acts as an analytical centre, but also as an entity that can prepare policy blueprints. Its first report, for example, published in 2014, was not built around data analysis, but rather a compilation of the knowledge on and insights into education accumulated in the country over the past 20 years. The report aims to build agreement on a national agenda for educational change. INEED’s other goals include introducing a national assessment of learning outcomes across all levels of the education system (except tertiary), assessment training for teachers, and also consolidating national education indicators to overcome the current fragmentation of data on the sector.

Low completion rates are a major challenge in higher education

Higher education in Uruguay is offered in both university and non-university tertiary institutions. The laws and regulations do not detail the type of institutions that belong to the latter group, but as far as university institutions are concerned, between 1833 and 1985 university-type higher education14 was only offered by the public University of the Republic (Universidad de la República - UdelaR) – a politically autonomous, national macro-university (Orellana, 2011).

The long-standing dominance of only one university has ingrained in the public mindset the idea that tertiary education is synonymous with university education (Pebé, 2013). This perception is proving hard to shift despite the diversification of the university sector since 1985 and the emergence of private institutions (such as the Universidad Católica del Uruguay (UCU), the Universidad ORT, the Universidad de Montevideo (UM), the Universidad de la Empresa (UDE), as well as over ten private university institutes.15 Consequently, UdelaR still accounts for over 80% of all tertiary enrolment in the country.

Public higher education is free of charge but is contingent on completing secondary education: the three-year ciclo basico (basic cycle) and the two-year ciclo diversificado (specialised cycle). The ciclo diversificado is intended to prepare secondary school graduates for the field that they will pursue at university level. In 2011 the three most popular subjects of study in this cycle were social and behavioural sciences (20.9% of total enrolment), followed by medicine (18%) and business and administration (14.2%). The subjects with least enrolment (below 1%) were social services, mathematics and statistics, and industry and production (Table 4.4).

Table 4.4. Enrolment in tertiary education in Uruguay by area of study in public and private institutions (2011)

Subject

Enrolment

Share of total

Social and Behavioural Sciences

5 399

20.9%

Medicine

4 656

18.0%

Business and Administration

3 661

14.2%

Law

2 005

7.8%

Computer Science

1 280

5.0%

Journalism

1 218

4.7%

Arts

997

3.9%

Agriculture and Fisheries

864

3.3%

Engineering and similar

828

3.2%

Education and Learning

785

3.0%

Architecture

754

2.9%

Humanities

707

2.7%

Physical Sciences

667

2.6%

Life Sciences

649

2.5%

Veterinary Science

578

2.2%

Personal Services

327

1.3%

Industry and Production

219

0.8%

Mathematics and Statistics

176

0.7%

Social Services

82

0.3%

Source: MEC (2012), Anuario Estadístico de Educación.

Upon completion of four to six years of university, students may obtain a degree of licenciado (first university degree), followed by a bachiller, doctor, experto, or técnico (three years); procurador, bachiller, or técnico (four years); arquitecto, ingeniero, or doctor (five years); and ingeniero, notario, or doctor (six years). There are also technical and teacher training institutions at tertiary level.

Like most OECD countries (OECD, 2008a), Uruguay has traditionally placed greater emphasis on equity of access to tertiary education than on equity of outcomes16 (Table 4.5).

Table 4.5. Trend in gross enrolment ratios, tertiary education in Uruguay, 1974-2008

Year

1974

1977

1980

1983

1989

1991

1996

1999

2005

2007

2008

Gross enrolment ratio. ISCED levels 5 and 6

12.3%

17.6%

15.5%

24.1%

29.6%

30.0%

29.4%

33.7%

45.3%

63.7%

64.6%

Source: UNESCO UIS Statistics.

Alongside these rising enrolment rates, probably the biggest challenge confronting the public higher education sector in Uruguay is the high rate of student drop-out (66% in 2011; Figure 4.6). Anecdotal evidence from the site visits suggests that dropping out for a few years and then enrolling again is common practice.

Figure 4.6. Tertiary education in Uruguay: Undergraduate enrolment and drop-out rates, 2004-11
picture

Note: Average for all institutions, assuming a theoretical duration of undergraduate education of four years.

Source: OECD calculations based on MEC (2012), Anuario Estadístico de Educación.

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There are very large disparities in graduation rates between faculties (Figure 4.7). For example in 2011, 48% of the 2007 enrolment cohort graduated from the faculty of architecture and construction, 46% in the faculty of law, 41% in agriculture and in medicine. In the same year, 52% of the students who enrolled to study personal services (servicios personales) were able to graduate. In contrast, only 2% of the students who enrolled in mathematics and statistics stayed the course. The rate of success was similarly low for educational sciences (6%) and humanities (7%), and only slightly better in administration and commerce (15%) and arts (16%). These numbers do not necessarily indicate drop-outs, as some of the students who failed to graduate in these subjects might have changed their field of study or decided to go for a lower level academic credential. The numbers do, however, suggest that, for whatever reasons, some faculties are considerably more successful than others in retaining their students and maintaining attendance and learning. Other countries are also seeing the expansion of tertiary participation accompanied by a downward trend in graduation rates (OECD, 2008a), although seldom as low as in Uruguay. For the sake of comparison, in 2011 the average rate of non-graduation in the OECD area was 32% (OECD, 2013a).

Figure 4.7. Graduation rate in tertiary education in Uruguay by area of study (public and private institutions), 2013
picture

Source: Authors’ calculations based on MEC (2013), Anuario Estadístico de Educación, www.mec.gub.uy/innovaportal/v/11078/5/mecweb/publicaciones_?3colid=927.

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How to balance equity of access with equity of outcomes?

For some years now the balance between equity of access and equity of outcomes has posed a serious challenge which seems to be difficult to address, perhaps because Uruguay still lacks adequate mechanisms to support students as they progress through university. The expansion of the tertiary sector has had some side effects for the public university. According to information provided during the site visits, the enrolment boom has started to put a serious strain on the capacity of UdelaR to accommodate new students while upholding its traditional standards of academic work. It has meant gaps in the supply of teachers, created shortages in learning materials and infrastructure availability, and most importantly, has meant a difficult-to-manage diversity of students, both in terms of academic preparation and socio-economic background.

The first step in designing adequate institutional and sector-wide responses to this challenge should be to identify (and agree) the reasons behind the unsatisfactory rate of student success. The following sub-sections discuss this question in some detail.

Students need greater flexibility

To facilitate student mobility and make study more flexible, universities in Europe and the United States make use of modular study components and rely on systems of transferable academic credits that are awarded for each successfully attended course. In contrast, the organisation of studies in Uruguay follows the carrera system, in which students take their classes in only one faculty and course and within the same field, where they stay together as a group for most lectures and seminars in the four years until graduation (ISEP, 2013).

Groups are also the norm when students prepare and study for exams. This seems to be a necessary approach in order to cope with daily life at university. The scope and complexity of classes in public higher education are not necessarily proportionate to the number of contact hours allocated for teaching or to the frequency with which classes take place. More demanding classes might in fact meet for fewer hours and less often, but have higher expectations about the amount of time students will invest outside of class. It is rare for professors to spend time providing advice to students during regular office hours (ISEP, 2013); instead quite a few of them seem to attend to other day jobs,17 as we saw during the site visits. Consequently if a student has a problem, he or she would be expected to turn elsewhere – to his peers or family – for help. It is therefore a widespread practice for students to distribute the burden of studying between themselves, for example by missing lectures and using someone else’s notes instead, preparing group versions of individual written assignments and oral presentations, and in general doing their best to compete against the system and not against each other (ISEP, 2013). While all students provide each other with collegial help, in Uruguay this also includes selective approaches to compulsory course content, which are tolerated by the system. For example, the only consequence of a failure to attend lectures, seminars and exams is a natural prolongation of the overall duration of undergraduate studies, most recently to an average of six years instead of four.18

The opt-in, opt-out approach to studying is practical not only because of the particular ways in which the lecturing routine is organised, but also because a considerable share of the undergraduate student population has daytime jobs. According to information provided by UdelaR, 60% of students work to support themselves, and of these more than half work for more than six hours a day. This leaves very little time for active participation in study groups.

Students could be better prepared for the demands of tertiary education

Another factor hindering success in Uruguay are the poor links between upper secondary and tertiary levels of education. These mean that secondary and first year tertiary curricula are misaligned, schools and universities differ in their views on the preparedness of secondary school graduates, and schools lack information about university courses and their professional outlook. The latter problem means that school graduates in Uruguay enrol in university without much prior information or guidance on their choice of study. As higher education institutions become more differentiated, the number of courses to choose from increases, and courses become more differentiated in content between institutions, the need grows for information and advice to help young people decide what and where to study. Asymmetries of information between insiders and outsiders of the tertiary education system all too often lead students along the wrong track, incurring large costs in terms of motivation, self-confidence, time and financial investments. This risk is particularly high for students from low socio-economic backgrounds. It is not enough to provide information on tertiary education opportunities – prospective students also need information on the skill requirements, demands and labour market outcomes of the various programmes to make informed decisions and limit the chances of choosing the wrong path (OECD, 2008b).

Even if their choice was informed, the poor co-ordination between education sectors implies that the first year of study is likely to require skills and knowledge that the final years of secondary schooling and the ciclo diversificado have failed to provide them with. Far too many university entrants in Uruguay are reported to lack the minimum set of skills in mathematics, reading and science needed for studying. As mentioned above, the 2012 PISA results show that at the age of 15, only a few years before graduation from secondary school, around 56% of students were not able to reach proficiency Level 2 in mathematics (Figure 4.8).

Figure 4.8. Proficiency in mathematics 2012: Percentage of students at each level of PISA proficiency
picture

Notes: Countries and economies are ranked in descending order of the percentage of students at Levels 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

1. Note by Turkey

The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

2. Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union

The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Source: OECD calculations based on PISA 2012 database, http://pisa2012.acer.edu.au/.

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There are no direct data on how many of these low-performing and hence vulnerable students will enrol at university, but the barrier-free access to higher education implies that the decision on who is qualified enough to study is left entirely to the secondary schools. The reportedly poor quality of new study entrants might be an indication that the graduation criteria applied by schools are different or maybe less demanding than those that UdelaR would wish for. Interviews with representatives from the tertiary sector suggest that graduation from secondary education is an achievement, but that it is not a guarantee of good quality learning outcomes. For UdelaR in particular the main challenge arising from this situation is to balance the commendable mandate of giving a fair chance to everyone with the need to foster academic excellence so that the country and its tertiary sector remain regionally and globally competitive. While this challenge remains to be addressed, the privately managed universities (which enjoy the liberty of preselecting their students) are increasingly establishing themselves as models of high academic quality.

This disconnect between education levels is further complicated by the absence of a central body responsible for higher education that could act as a counterpart to the Secondary Education Council. In the absence of such a body, the burden of tertiary co-ordination rests with UdelaR, the country’s sole public provider of higher education. It is not really within UdelaR’s mandate to improve co-ordination with the secondary education sector, so each of these education levels continues to do their best within the limits of their own mandates. The public university, for example, is engaging in ANEP-led initiatives for improving the learning outcomes of secondary school graduates, some of which (i.e. the Compromiso Educativo) also allow for tutoring by university students.

These project-type initiatives are a step in the right direction, but they are all remedial in nature and do not aim at improving the education system. They are also relatively new and it remains to be seen whether they will have the desired effect. In the meantime, and until the articulation problems between levels of education are addressed in a more systemic fashion (e.g. see Box 4.5), the misalignment of information, learning content and expectations will continue to cause a long-lasting transition shock to newly enrolled students, affecting their graduation outlook.

Box 4.5. Improving graduation rates through better co-ordination among education levels – an OECD perspective

Improving graduation rates by closing the gap between upper secondary and tertiary education is a challenge for OECD countries too. Countries resort to different actions to enhance study completion. One approach is to change the upper secondary school curriculum so that it is better aligned with tertiary education. In countries which have a national or state upper secondary curriculum, involving tertiary academics in curriculum design or reform is an obvious option. This approach is used in Australia and Croatia, where university academics are involved in advising on school curriculum and assessment processes. Likewise, changes in the United Kingdom’s upper secondary school curriculum are discussed with both schools and higher education institutions.

Another approach has been to revise upper secondary curricula to better prepare upper secondary graduates for tertiary studies. In the Netherlands for instance, policy measures have focused on shifting teaching methods from passive to active learning, as a way to build students’ information gathering skills. In Norway and Sweden the general education content of upper secondary vocational curricula has been expanded, while in New Zealand, the government supports a national Curriculum Alignment Project.

Some countries have also introduced extension programmes offered by higher education institutions to upper secondary students. Dual enrolment programmes allow high-school students to enrol in a tertiary course prior to graduation, giving them first-hand exposure to the requirements of tertiary-level work while gaining tertiary credits. Traditionally, these programmes have been reserved for high-achieving students, but some educators encourage their spread to middle- and low-achieving students given the potential impact of advanced coursework on student motivation and future success in tertiary education. Extension programmes are found – albeit not systematically – in Australia, China, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden where upper secondary students may complete their final project or participate in research projects at a higher education institution.

Source: OECD (2008b), Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society, Volume I, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264046535-en.

Uruguay is not a passive observer of these developments; for a while now its tertiary sector has been engaging in a range of institutional responses, echoing practices in other countries in the region and the OECD which are confronted with similar problems (Box 4.6). UdelaR’s responses to the diversity challenge range from “in-house” solutions such as remedial courses for new study entrants and increasing horizontal mobility,19 to interventions in the system of provision of tertiary education, such as opening university campuses in remote parts of the country and diversifying the network of public higher education institutions.

Box 4.6. Increasing equity in outcomes in Norway and Mexico

Norway’s Quality Reform Initiative has seen an increasing focus on equity in study outcomes. More emphasis is now being placed on student progression throughout tertiary studies, with special support and follow-up measures to assist those students experiencing greater difficulties. Similarly, in Mexico new attention to equity in outcomes is reflected in the wide availability of tutoring programmes in tertiary education institutions: typically, students’ progress is closely followed by a teacher. Those students who have been identified as coming from a disadvantaged background (e.g. recipients of means-tested scholarships) are entitled to specific support.

Source: OECD (2008a), Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society, Volume II, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264046535-en.

Learning opportunities could be better tailored to regional and employment needs

High drop-out rates and low retention cannot only be blamed on academic challenges and lack of study time. Discussions in UdelaR, for example, suggest that geographical distance and the associated costs might hinder regular attendance by those students who live in the provinces (classes are largely concentrated in the capital, Montevideo). Research confirms that participation and success levels in tertiary education are related to the availability of tertiary education provision within the vicinity of the place of residence (Box 4.7) (OECD, 2008b).

Box 4.7. The effect of regionalisation on tertiary enrolment in OECD countries

A number of studies provide evidence that participation levels in tertiary education are related to the availability of tertiary education provision within the vicinity of the place of residence. Frenette (2006) shows that, in Canada, students living “out of commuting distance” from a university are far less likely to attend university than students living “within commuting distance”, the effect being particularly marked for students from lower-income families. Two longitudinal surveys of Canadian youth, find that in both British Columbia and Nova Scotia, students in rural areas have lower expectations and attainments compared to other students, even when controlling for parental background, gender and academic stream (Andres and Looker, 2001). Research conducted in Sweden suggests that distance-learning opportunities in remote areas improve the likelihood that young people will participate in tertiary education. They find that many would not have been able to study at tertiary level without the distance-learning centre, this being particularly the case for women and for students coming from “non-academic” homes (Dahllöf, 2003; Roos, 2003).

Source: OECD (2008a), Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society, Volume II, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264046535-en.

A recent flagship effort that bundles most of these responses in its mission statement is the newly established Technical University of Uruguay (Universidad Tecnológica del Uruguay or UTEC). UTEC opened its doors in 2014 and its study offer consists of technical, pragmatically oriented courses that provide the skills needed in key business sectors. The university is headed by a Central Executive Council with a diverse membership, comprising a rector (elected by the faculty, students and alumni), two teachers, two students, a representative of the non-teaching staff, a representative of the business community, and the directors of the Regional Institutes of Technology. As a public tertiary education institution with a technology profile, UTEC is oriented towards research and innovation, and committed to the matching the needs of the productive sector and increasing the access to educational opportunities in the interior of the country. One of the most innovative features of UTEC is the focus on the collective building of knowledge, with high standards of quality management and academic excellence (UTEC 2013).

UTEC is a rather unique entity in the Uruguayan higher education landscape. First, it is the only university to have the business sector heavily involved in both its management and curriculum design. Second, it provides education mostly through regional campuses, which makes it a forerunner of the plan to regionalise higher education in the country. The regional campuses all have different profiles as the content of courses are shaped by the needs of the dominant business sector in each region.20 Third, through the use of tailored admission exams, UTEC intends to reach out specifically to those students (mostly from the provinces) whose socio-economic and geographic constraints may prevent them from participating in and benefitting fully from more traditional and academic forms of tertiary education.

Box 4.8. Better skills for better outcomes: Towards a skills strategy for Uruguay

Skills transform lives and drive economies. Effective skill development and deployment are central to future economic and social development. Skills are defined by the OECD as the bundle of knowledge, attributes and capacities that can be learned and that enable individuals to successfully and consistently perform an activity or task and can be built upon and extended through learning (OECD, 2012d).

However, Uruguay’s education system shows relatively low levels of performance, as illustrated by PISA results among other things. While this is just one of the explanatory factors of skills levels in a country, evidence from the demand side confirms that skills are not always pertinent and thus do not match with the demands from the productive sector. In fact, 1 out of 3 firms in Uruguay (30.8%) does not find the skills it needs, similar to the difficulties faced by Latin American firms (35.9%), but well above the levels at the OECD, where around 15% of firms face this kind of difficulties (OECD/CAF/ECLAC, 2014).

Investing in skills represents one of the main policy strategies to pursue development and economic growth. In a globalized and increasingly knowledge-based economy, the capacity of countries to compete is more and more based on their ability to innovate and reap the benefits of technological progress, to add value to their goods and services, or to integrate their productive sector into higher segments of global value chains, among others. This is why skills matter, as they are a unique instrument to foster economic growth through gains in productivity and capacity to compete. Not only this; employment creation, labour market efficiency and job satisfaction are directly related to the capacity of a country to provide its citizens with the right set of skills and to match the skills provided by the education and training systems with those demanded by the production sector.

In this context, the OECD has been working with different countries to develop and implement a Skills Strategy, which aims to provide countries with a strategic approach for building, maintaining and using their human capital to boost employment and economic growth, so as promote social inclusion and participation. In all this, the OECD works collaboratively with countries to develop a strategic assessment tailored to each country’s specific skills challenges and needs. The OECD Skills Strategy provides the overall framework for this work, focusing on: 1) Developing relevant skills; 2) Activating skills supply; 3) Using skills effectively; and 4) Strengthening the skills system.

Given the horizontal nature of skills challenges, a national skills strategy project needs to be designed together with all relevant government authorities and stakeholders. This means taking a whole-of-government approach, with dialogue and collaboration across ministerial portfolios, and engaging stakeholders to build a national consensus and commitment to action.

Source: OECD (2012d), Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives: A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264177338-en.

There are high expectations of UTEC and there is no reason to doubt that the new university will not live up to them. Its strength lies in its mission and its bold and unique set of characteristics. Nevertheless, if not managed properly, these very same characteristics that make UTEC a promising undertaking could quickly become its biggest weakness.

The close involvement of the business community in shaping course content, for instance, will be a strong guarantee of the relevance of UTEC studies and the positive employment outlook of its graduates. The connections to the employers’ community will also ensure that UTEC’s decentralised campuses respond to regional needs – this feature has the potential to make the university an example of best practice far beyond the national borders of Uruguay. However, UTEC will first have to find a way to disperse the deeply rooted public mistrust of private sector involvement in matters of public education.21 Otherwise the new institution, whose creation was driven partly by regional political agendas, risks being taken hostage by local political interests. Establishing and promoting equity as a guiding principle of its work may be a way forward.

Another point is that UTEC’s technical, shorter, more labour market relevant courses will fill a niche in the country’s educational landscape by bridging the gap between vocational post-secondary and academic tertiary education. This suggests creating a much more promising employment outlook for UTEC graduates than any other post-secondary institution in Uruguay. However, UTEC’s reputation (and with it the chances of success of its graduates) will take time to build, at least until the first wave of graduations. Until then much will depend on the ability of the new institution to balance the technical-vocational and academic “halves” of its identity. Too much focus on the technical-vocational half might “disqualify” UTEC’s students from access to more academically oriented study content (i.e. courses offered at UdelaR) and might also diminish the attractiveness of UTEC’s offer to UdelaR students, thus turning UTEC’s “niche” into an educational dead-end. This is a plausible concern. According to the OECD, inter-institutional transfers between academic and more vocationally oriented higher education institutions are limited in most OECD education systems (OECD, 2008b). In Uruguay, it would be important to put in place formal arrangements for inter-institutional teacher and student transfers, in particular between UTEC and UdelaR, to facilitate a flow of students and ensure that the new university is fully integrated in the tertiary education sector and accepted as a viable tertiary education alternative by prospective students and their families.

Too much focus on the academic dimension of its work might, on the other hand, leave UTEC struggling to compete for academic recognition, stretched between academic ambitions and the needs and expectations of its main “customers” – the students and their potential employers, for whom an “academic drift” (Box 4.9) might bring little (if any) added value. The causes of academic drift are multiple and are often linked to the tendency of young or more technically and vocationally oriented institutions to strive towards the status of older and well established universities, their staff and students (OECD, 2008b). UTEC might or might not be different in this respect, but in the first years of its operation the new university should be supported in developing ownership of its special mission and discouraged from emulating UdelaR and its research outlets. This could be done through incentives and rewards for achievement, and by encouraging and promoting innovation in the study process.

Box 4.9. The move towards vocational tertiary provision across the OECD

Over the past 15 years, numerous OECD countries have faced similar diversity challenges, and have resorted to similar solutions, notably the creation of vocationally and technically oriented tertiary institutions (OECD, 2008b). Examples include the university colleges in Norway, the Instituts Universitaires de Technologie in France, the polytechnics in Finland and Portugal, the professional higher education institutions in Estonia, the professional institutes and technical training centres in Chile, and the technological universities and institutes in Mexico. In order to establish themselves as viable education alternatives, all of these education providers had to find a way around some common pitfalls. These include tendencies towards “academic drift” – the “widespread, persistent and inappropriate aspiration of more vocationally oriented institutions to emulate the mission and practices of established and generally ‘elite’ universities” (OECD, 2008b); the danger of slipping into isolation due to limitations in teacher and student mobility from/to more academically oriented tertiary institutions; and the lack of guidance on the appropriate involvement in academic life and research for a university with a technical-vocational profile.

Recommendations

In striving to meet the educational needs of every student in the country, Uruguay has removed all barriers to access. Public education is free and open to everyone, at all levels. Once enrolled, however, numerous students discover that their educational path gets narrower and more slippery the further they progress in the education system. The excessively high rates of repetition and drop-out are a vivid reminder of how limited the value of free access to education can be if struggling students are left without support. To give every student in the country a fair chance not only of enrolling, but also of graduating, effective support mechanisms should be put in place as a matter of priority.

This is a complex task that requires deep and far-reaching interventions in key areas of education policy. Uruguay is certainly not starting from scratch. The groundwork for these interventions has been done – in education development plans and promising pilots, such as the Full Time School. The right choices are now needed for what to do next: where to best focus limited resources, which initiatives merit being scaled-up nationwide; and – most of all – where to start in order to make a difference, quickly and for as many as possible.

The following sections outline a package of measures to target the equity challenge discussed in this chapter. The recommendations try to build on existing reform initiatives and/or good practice so as to capitalise on what has already been achieved. The fourteen recommendations are summarised in Table 4.6.

Table 4.6. Summary of recommendations

Sections and main recommendations

Target

Area of policy intervention

Secondary education

1

Redefine classroom assessment by specifying procedures and objective criteria to guide the assessments administered by teachers

Improve identification mechanisms

Assessment

2

Promote the use of assessment results for formative purposes

3

Triangulate the results of classroom assessments with external standardised examinations

4

Make use of the good practice existing in the national education system

5

Improve the conditions for teaching by giving teachers more time with the same students

Empower teachers

School organisation

6

Develop a realistic plan for scaling-up the Full Time School model nation-wide, and commence with its implementation as soon as possible

7

Develop a package of measures tailored to the expectations and needs of young teachers without a teaching certificate, which provide them with incentives to obtain one and to stay in the profession

Teacher policies

8

Initiate peer learning between secondary schools on experiences with greater teaching and curricular autonomy

Individualise instruction

Governance

Higher education

9

Promote student mobility by revising the carrera system in favour of a modular approach to study content and awarding of credits.

Facilitate mobility

Governance

10

Recognise, institutionalise and support self-help study groups as an instrument of academic preparation and work

Strengthen student support

11

Improve alignment between secondary and tertiary levels and introduce transition support for first year students

Improve coherence and co-ordination

UTEC

12

Invest in meeting the institutional mission statement and in demonstrating to the public that there is commitment to it.

13

Set up incentives and provide rewards for achievement, and encourage and promote innovation in the study process.

14

Put in place formal arrangements for inter-institutional teacher and student transfers between UTEC and UdelaR to facilitate a flow of students, ensure that the new university is fully integrated in the tertiary education sector, and is accepted as a viable tertiary education alternative by prospective students and their families

Secondary education

Secondary education needs to:

  • improve the mechanisms for identifying students who are struggling academically

  • empower teachers to mobilise their full potential as professionals

  • individualise the learning process.

Below we outline recommended measures to achieve each of the three objectives.

Identify students in need of support

The most effective strategy to address learning gaps and avoid repetition (and drop-out) is to pre-empt students’ learning problems by tackling them as they emerge during the school year (OECD, 2012e). No-one is in a better position to detect such problems than the teachers. The minimum that timely and reliable detection takes is a sound combination of classroom and external assessments, and know-how to use the results for both summative and formative purposes. A reform to improve support for students who struggle academically should therefore start by revising the assessment system and practices in secondary education so as to identify problems more quickly:

1. Redefine classroom assessment by specifying classroom assessment procedures and objective criteria to guide the assessments administered by teachers. This will remove arbitrariness and allow students’ learning to be assessed against clearly defined, collectively developed criteria that are known in advance to all participants of the process (teachers, students, their parents, education school administrators). Criteria-based classroom assessment is likely to be more transparent and fair than the currently predominant norm-based approach. The choice of criteria should allow for tracking students’ success or failure over time, identify knowledge and skills gaps, and communicate reliable information on success and failure (including on decisions about repeating years) to parents and the students themselves.

2. Promote the use of assessment results for formative purposes, so that the responses of students are used not only to mark success or failure, but also to identify problems with learning and determine corresponding adjustments in teaching and, if possible and necessary, in the learning environment.

3. Triangulate the results of classroom assessments with external standardised examinations. The National Learning Assessment of the primary level is a good, home-grown example of the information potential of standardised testing built on a rich, externally maintained pool of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, complemented by questionnaires on the socio-economic context of students. The fact that teachers can use the external test for the development of their own tests shows the added value which external testing can have for the design of classroom assessments.

4. Make use of the good practice existing in the national education system. For many years now, assessment practices in primary education follow the best of international developments, combining summative and formative elements, and standardised external assessments. The rich experience of primary schools and ANEP can (and should) guide and inspire the long overdue improvements in assessment on secondary school level.

Empower teachers

Designing a state-of-the-art assessment system is only half the battle in increasing equity. Teachers also need to be empowered to make regular use of the assessment findings in their work, and provided with incentives to do so. This will require technical interventions – such as the provision of training in applying criteria-based classroom assessments – and longer-term efforts to upgrade the status of the teaching profession:

5. Improve the conditions for teaching by giving teachers more time with the same students, primarily by curbing the detrimental practice of teaching multiple shifts in different schools. As discussed earlier, this exposes teachers to an unmanageable number of students and deprives the students, especially the weaker ones, of the attention they might require to succeed. Interventions to regulate the practice of multi-shift, multi-school teaching must be planned and executed with caution because working more hours is probably the only legitimate way for teachers to compensate for their low income. However, rather than focusing primarily on the issue of salary increases (a contentious topic), a suitable response might involve better regulation, such as permitting teachers to teach more than one shift up to a certain ceiling as long as it is in the same school with the same students, and barring them from teaching in more than one school. In this way students will be able to benefit from longer exposure to the same teachers and from a more personal approach to their learning needs.

6. Develop and implement a realistic plan for scaling-up the Full Time School model nationwide as soon as possible. The pilot has shown its value for both teachers and students. An added value of this intervention is that it will create the conditions for those who are already in the teaching profession to rediscover the vocation of teaching.

7. Develop a package of measures to encourage young teachers without a teaching certificate to obtain one and to stay in the profession. The incentives could be both financial (such as a salary premium upon certification) as well as non-income related, such as work time flexibility, greater autonomy in teaching the curriculum, and greater job security. The certification procedure could be redesigned to include a new “fast certification track” which recognises hands-on experience as a professional asset that can be tested and credited in their favour.

Individualise the learning process

PISA data suggest that schools in Uruguay with greater autonomy to adjust curricula and teaching to theirs and their students’ needs tend to perform better in the survey (see section on “Conditions of schooling”). Experiences from OECD countries confirm that a certain degree of autonomy to adjust the organisation of the instruction time, the class composition and teaching can lead to more personalised and effective learning environments which benefit disadvantaged students (OECD, 2012e):

8. Initiate peer learning among secondary schools on experiences with greater teaching and curricular autonomy with a view to:

    setting guidelines on how to balance student-centred instruction with aligned curricular and assessment practices (OECD, 2012e).

    increasing school autonomy gradually.

Higher education

Public higher education in Uruguay faces similar equity challenges to the rest of the public education system. Here access rates are in stark contrast with success rates, especially for disadvantaged students. The recommendations are similar to those suggested for secondary education, concentrating on ways to create a more supportive academic environment which meets students’ learning needs and is flexible enough to allow for adjustments in their academic career. The recommendations can be summarised under the headings “mobility”, “support” and “coherence”.

Facilitate mobility

International practice points towards a growing awareness of the benefits of more flexible student pathways and student mobility within and between tertiary institutions.22 Universities in Europe and the United States offer a modular approach in which students can accumulate transferable academic credits for each successfully attended course. In Uruguay the learning ethos and environment differs strongly between primary and secondary and between secondary and tertiary education; secondary school graduates are not necessarily well prepared for and informed about their further education options. It is only when they are exposed to the new academic environment that they can make informed choices about their interests and strengths. Allowing for a certain degree of mobility within the tertiary institution will allow them to change or fine-tune their initial study choices and concentrate on subjects that really interest them, which will be a win-win solution for all sides.

9. Promote student mobility by revising the carrera system in favour of a modular approach to study content and awarding of credits.

Strengthen support for students

The massive scale of home-grown student support is an indication of the scarcity of “official” academic support at UdelaR and the extent to which it is in demand. The self-help groups operate without much contact and co-ordination with the academic staff responsible for the lectures, exercises and the exams. The availability of professors for advice and consultations is also limited.

10. Foster stronger connections and better co-ordination between the self-help groups and the “official” academic world at UdelaR. One way of doing this would be to recognise and institutionalise them as an academic instrument by providing them with content and instructions sanctioned directly by the faculty, and requesting the faculty to take ownership and responsibility for their respective self-help groups. This will ensure some minimum standards of academic preparation, harvest their potential as multipliers of academic support, and reassure their members that they are doing the right thing.

Improve the coherence and links between secondary and tertiary education levels

The disconnect between upper secondary and tertiary levels of education means misalignments between secondary and first year tertiary curricula, diverging expectations of schools and universities regarding the preparedness of secondary school graduates, and lack of information in schools about university courses and professional career paths. This results in a massive transition shock for new university entrants.

11. Improve alignment between secondary and tertiary levels (perhaps drawing on the examples provided in Box 4.5). Consider introducing transition support in the form of induction and remedial courses for first year students.

UTEC

The newly established Technical University of Uruguay (Universidad Tecnológica del Uruguay – UTEC) is a key initiative for addressing some of the higher education issues discussed in this chapter. Ensuring UTEC fulfils its potential will require it to:

12. Deal with public distrust of private sector participation in public education. This will require continuously investing in fulfilling the institutional mission statement and in demonstrating to the public the commitment to it.

13. Establish a good reputation through incentives and rewards for achievement, and by encouraging and promoting innovation in the study process.

14. Keep the focus on UTEC’s special mission, and avoid emulating UdelaR and its research outlets to ensure that the new university is fully integrated in the tertiary education sector, and is accepted as a viable tertiary education alternative by prospective students and their families. This can be done through: preserving the more technical, shorter, labour market-relevant character of its courses; and formalising arrangements for inter-institutional teacher and student transfers between UTEC and UdelaR to facilitate a flow of students.

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Notes

← 1. Prepared by Mihaylo Milovanovitch on behalf of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills.

← 2. In the region, Chile was top performer in all three subjects in 2012, followed by Mexico in mathematics and reading and Uruguay in science.

← 3. At Level 2, students can interpret and recognise situations in contexts that require no more than direct inference. They can extract relevant information from a single source and make use of a single representational mode. Students at this level can employ basic algorithms, formulae, procedures, or conventions to solve problems involving whole numbers. They are capable of making literal interpretations of the results (OECD, 2014a).

← 4. As measured by PISA.

← 5. Calculations available only for 2009.

← 6. Middle of the performance distribution in the education system, or 50th percentile.

← 7. Census-based national assessments are those in which all (or most) schools and students in the target population participate; sample-based national assessments are those in which a representative sample of students or schools takes part.

← 8. See for example www.anep.edu.uy/sea/?page_id=2542.

← 9. As implied by the high rates of repetition and drop-out.

← 10. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Uruguay, as other Latin American countries have introduced reforms for the improvement of the teaching profession (see OECD, 2014e).

← 11. The precise term used in PISA is “resources”. The index of quality of school resources is constructed from school principals’ reports and measures the extent to which the lack of certain resources hinders the school’s ability to provide instruction. High levels in the index indicate more resources. The resources captured by the index include class size, instruction time, participation in after-school lessons, availability of extracurricular activities, teacher shortages, and lack of material resources that can adversely affect instruction.

← 12. In terms of statistically significant correlation.

← 13. The governance domains captured by PISA are resource allocation, curriculum and assessment, competition for students, form of management (public or private).

← 14. Except for teacher training.

← 15. While universities offer a wider range of study subjects, university institutes are limited to only few.

← 16. This distinction is important. Equity of access relates to equality of opportunities to enter tertiary education. Equity of outcomes stands for opportunities to progress and complete tertiary education (OECD, 2008a).

← 17. The latter also influences the frequency with which classes take place. Due to their loaded schedules, professors might opt for longer sessions once a week instead of shorter meetings several times a week, and set the classes for the evening.

← 18. The figures were provided during site visits to UdelaR.

← 19. Meaning that students can change their subject of study if they discover that their initial choice was not right.

← 20. The first three careers covered will be milk production, industrial chemistry and informatics.

← 21. For example by establishing and promoting equity as a guiding principle of its work. Concerns about the private involvement in UTEC have been raised already in the Parliamentary session of 12 November 2012, which endorsed the UTEC project (see http://brecha.com.uy/index.php/politica-uruguaya/900-al-final-salio).

← 22. See for example (OECD, 2008b), Chapter 3.