Monday, January 3, 2011

Youth Service Policy and Education in Argentina

In 2006, the Government of Argentina passed a law obliging the inclusion of youth volunteer activities in education. Listed under article 32, the law requires “the organization of youth volunteering activities and service educational projects, to cooperate in community development, in the frame of the institutional education project.”

Similarly, article 132 calls on educational programs for “maintaining regular and systematic bonds with the local environment, putting into action extension activities, such as service-learning actions.”

In November 2010, the Latin American Center for Service-Learning (CLAYSS) released an update on the implementation of these policies. The update states that, in November 2009, the Federal Council agreed that new high school programs will include mandatory Projects of Socio-Community Service. These projects will give all students the opportunity to get involved in service actions at least once during their school years, to learn from the active exercise of their citizenship, and to put into action their knowledge and capacities to serve their communities.

The new requirement was created in response to research conducted by CLAYSS and Washington University in St. Louis, which analyzed the efficacy of pilot programs that have been in place in Argentina since 2000.

CLAYSS’s announcement stated that about 15,000 Argentinean educational institutions have developed service experiences in the past few years, prior to the call for the creation of mandatory programs. Their research also shows that practices which articulate service-learning have contributed to their learning and school retention and strengthened citizenship of involved students, as well as diminished the amount of students who repeat a year in school.

Here at ICP, we are well aware of the benefits that service-learning can have on students in school. For years, we’ve been working with governments around the world to build new, or improve existing, national youth service policies (NYSP), like Argentina’s. For example, in 2006, we published a policy scan on NYSP in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. We hope that, with the help of this and other ICP resources, many more governments will include service-learning in their educational systems, as Argentina has successfully done.

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