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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
World Cup TV for Argentine pupils
Argentine fans in Germany
Argentines are mad about football - the country has won two World Cups
A decision by four Argentine provinces to allow pupils to watch World Cup matches in the classroom has sparked an intense debate across the country.

Schools in Cordoba, Mendoza, Santa Fe and Formosa will screen the national squad's games for their students.

Critics say schools risk losing their educational focus and that past experiences have not been good.

But those in favour argue that watching the matches will allow students to learn about other cultures.

Other provincial education authorities in the country are now debating whether to allow live broadcasts during school hours.

In Buenos Aires, the most populated province, it has been left up to each headmaster to decide. In the past, some schools there have allowed pupils to watch the matches.

Subject: World Cup

The Education Minister, Daniel Filmus, is the most prominent supporter of the idea.

Whatever next? Shall we suspend school activities for big hockey or tennis games?
Guillermo Jaim Etcheverry, University of Buenos Aires

"I can't see anything wrong with that. Schools shouldn't be left out of an event so important to our society."

Mr Filmus also announced the launch of a book jointly published with the German embassy in Buenos Aires, aimed at helping teachers use the matches to generate debate in the classroom.

Supporters of the idea say it may help students to learn, for instance, how to find on the map the other teams in Argentina's opening group: Serbia and Montenegro, Ivory Coast and the Netherlands.

In football-mad Argentina, those in favour of allowing World Cup broadcasts in classes also say it will help fight truancy rates, which rocketed during the 2002 tournament.

On the opposite side of the pitch, the head of the University of Buenos Aires, Guillermo Jaim Etcheverry, has strongly criticised the decision to show football matches during school hours.

"Whatever next? Shall we suspend school activities for big hockey or tennis games? Well how about the opera and cinema?" he asked.

But the dilemma may be short lived if Argentina repeats its form during the last World Cup, when the twice winners unexpectedly crashed out in the opening round.

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Country profile: Argentina
02 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Argentina
31 Dec 04 |  Country profiles

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