Transforming futures: Argentina province and Perkins invest in early education services

With support from Perkins School for the Blind, early childhood intervention is being prioritized for students with disabilities in Cordoba, Argentina.

A photo of two toddlers playing on a school playground. They are sitting merry-go-rounds and facing each other.

The first five years of the life of a child are crucial period for physical, emotional, and intellectual development. Leaving children unattended during this time can bring about long-term consequences, an issue Argentinian early childhood centers are seeking to reduce. The main challenge in the country remains the system inequities so children can benefit from full rights in accessing quality education and other services. Currently, more than 10 thousand babies die before reaching five years, with the majority dying before their first year.

With such staggering numbers, acting on early intervention is crucial. It is during this period of a child’s life that disabilities can be identified, and others can be avoided. Both international conventions and national laws in Argentina have legal mechanisms for the full attention of services and care in infancy. The educational laws in Argentina preview the standardization of education for children until three years and the requirement to attend school starting at the age of four.

Cross-Sector Collaboration

From this perspective of rights, since 2019, Perkins School for the Blind has worked with the Catholic University of Cordoba (UCC), the Subsecretary of Disability, Rehabilitation, and Inclusion, the Defensor of Girls and Boys and Teenagers, and other organisms, through its Model Programs Approach, with the goal of training tutors to teach professionals that work with children with disabilities.

Now, starting in 2023, Perkins is expanding its work in the country; the project will focus on strengthening six early education centers, including two nurseries, in the province of Cordoba, which implies an innovation within the project with a valuable opportunity to intervene in the early ages of life, supporting early detection, favoring appropriate attention of the needs of the development of children to guarantee the access to formal education in more equitable conditions. The main goal is to contribute to psychological development through early stimulation and adequate nutrition, in addition to facilitating the social and working intersection of responsible adults. 

For María Alejandra Yanes, coordinator at the early childhood center Dr. Jorge Alvarez de Villa Santa Rosa de Rio Primero, “the idea is that we can meet our objective of supporting the child and their family in this stage of growth to improve their self-esteem and security; also as a society, to improve the coverage of service.”

María Alejandra Yanes at an interview with the local TV station during Perkins staff visit her school. An interviewer is holding a microphone on the left with María speaking into it on the right side. Two Perkins Coordinators can be seen in the background watching the interview.
María Alejandra Yanes, at an interview with a local TV station, during Perkins staff visit to her early childhood center.

Karina Medina, Perkins’s Representative to Argentina, believes that with the work Perkins is doing in collaboration with the government in Cordoba, several families and their kids at the early stages of their life will benefit, including Benjamin, who, due to cognitive and motor disabilities, faces speech difficulties and can’t execute basic skills like eating by himself.

For Karina, she hopes that with the help of Perkins, Benjamin can show growth in this space of early childhood that “will serve to improve his self-esteem, provide him with a sense of security and allow him to demonstrate all the achievements he has made throughout the year, preparing him for school.”

A photo of Benjamin, an infant toddler, using his school orange apron. Benjamin is inside the class running towards the camera. Behind him, other kids can be seen in the background.
Benjamin is an infant toddler who attends an early childhood center in Cordoba, Argentina.

When a child is diagnosed with a disability, families often feel they have a big challenge to face and few possibilities of support, which may keep children away from school in their first years of life. Argentina has demonstrated changes in relation to social inclusion, but there is still evidence of a gap between the laws that guarantee rights and their effective implementation for the development of a comprehensive early education policy.

By initiating this collaboration with the government and early education centers in Cordoba, Perkins is committed to effecting real, systemic change with a significant potential for future impact in early education at the national level.

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