Special Education in Latin America: Experiences and Issues

By Alfredo J. Artiles; Daniel P. Hallahan | Go to book overview

6
Special Education Services for Rural Areas in Uruguay: A Proposed Model

ELOÍSA G. DE LORENZO


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Uruguay is located on the eastern Atlantic coast of South America. Its territory covers an area of 68,000 square miles, with many rivers and minor waterways. The Uruguayan landscape is characterized by gently rolling plains and prairies, and it lacks deserts, jungles, and mountains. An extensive road network allows accessibility to all main population centers in the country.

With 2.94 million people (according to 1985 census preliminary data), Uruguay has a population density of 16.7 inhabitants per square kilometer. The rural population of the country is 13.8 percent. The average annual growth rates for the two last intercensus periods ( 1963-1975 and 1975-1985) are 0.6 and 0.5 percent, respectively, comparatively the lowest in Latin America. This low demographic growth rate is correlated, as in the rest of the countries in which it occurs, with a high enrollment in formal education and a high urbanization rate. Almost half (44.5 percent) of the population lives in the capital, Montevideo, and 41.7 percent inhabits the cities in the province. Uruguay's birth and child mortality rates have jointly declined during the past years, and life expectancy has increased.

A contributing factor for the current social and cultural composition of the Uruguayan society is the extensive and early institution of a formal public education system at the elementary, secondary, and university levels. Free, compulsory, secular, and coeducational elementary education was established in 1877 and expanded rapidly thereafter. European philosophical and humanistic ideas exerted a great influence on the

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