(from: Waldorf Education Worldwide, pp. 184-185, Note the Copyright!)
Uruguay lies on the northern shore of the wide mouth of the Rio de la Plata where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean; the country has borders with Brazil and Argentina. It has a climate that is warm temperate and a landscape of vast grassy plains and wooded regions. More than half its population lives in the capital city, Montevideo, which is much less hectic than neighbouring Buenos Aires.
Freedom to choose a school
A kindergarten was founded in Montevideo by Helga and Rudi Grams in 1967. Seven years later, in 1974, the first Waldorf class opened its doors, and since then the Colegio Novalis has reached Class 6. From the beginning much value has been attached to including children with learning difficulties.
The law in Uruguay states that children must go to school, but it leaves parents free to choose whether they want their children to attend a state or an independent school. Primary school covers the first 6 years, and any educational alternative receives authorization for that period. After the sixth year all children attending an independent school that does not teach according to the state curriculum must sit an exam which entitles them to transfer to a state school.
Classes 7 and 8 are seen as the middle school in Uruguay. The Waldorf School in Montevideo is counting on receiving authorization to teach the middle school years as well.
Waldorf Education is little known in Uruguay and is seen as an alternative to state education. Apart from a small tax reduction the state provides no support for private initiatives in education. The Colegio Novalis finances itself by means of parent contributions, festivals and donations from abroad.
Those who have got to know the education, whether via the teacher training seminar or as a parent, come to appreciate it increasingly. But it is not easy either for parents or teachers to stand up for this very different method in public, especially as it integrates children with learning difficulties. Overcoming prejudices is an ongoing battle.
Planning for expansion
The education system in Uruguay has opened up in the past few years and the education authorities are interested in alternative models, so there is hope that the Montevideo school will receive a higher level of recognition from the state.
Teachers, board members and the parents have worked out a 10-year plan covering the next steps in building up the middle and upper school. A teacher training programme is also being considered. A new school building will be needed and is already at the planning stage. We hope that the Waldorf School of Montevideo will receive support for its expansion from home and abroad.
University studies and state teacher training. Studied Waldorf Education at the São Paulo Seminar. Class teacher at the Colegio Novalis.