ASUNCION – The 93-year-old Artigas School, Uruguay’s only public educational institution abroad, continues offering a learning alternative to children in Paraguay, keeping alive the memory of independence leader Jose Gervasio Artigas (1764-1850), who spent five of his 30 years in exile near the campus.
The school symbolizes “a fraternal crucible between Uruguay and Paraguay,” principal Daniela Devincenzi told EFE, adding that Artigas died in Paraguay.
The school occupies nearly three hectares (7.4 acres) inside Asuncion’s Botanical Garden, where Artigas’s house was located during the years he spent mostly confined at Villa Curuguaty, located some 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Asuncion, on the orders of Paraguayan ruler Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia.
The property where the school is located now serves nearly 200 children between the ages of 4 and 12.
The land was donated by Paraguay to Uruguay after Montevideo returned to Asuncion the war trophies captured during the 1864-1870 War of the Triple Alliance in which Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina invaded Paraguay.
Uruguayan and Paraguayan officials want to make the campus part of the Mercosur trade bloc’s cultural heritage program, and the school, located seven kilometers (4.3 miles) from downtown Asuncion, is the only one in Paraguay adhering to Uruguayan academic standards.
“We understand education as a right, and we strive to promote the development of great thinking skills,” Devincenzi said. “Knowledge and creativity are the great pillars of the Uruguayan system.”
Funded by the Uruguayan Education Ministry, the school follows the principles laid down by education reformer Jose Pedro Varela (1845-1879) centered on “free, compulsory and secular schooling” for both boys and girls.