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Spanish to English translations [PRO] Social Sciences - Education / Pedagogy
Spanish term or phrase:escuela de primeras letras
A text by an Argentine historian on education in Argentina:
En efecto, durante el siglo XIX se sentaron ciertas matrices de configuración de los sistemas educativos con consecuencias sobre la definición de los saberes necesarios para enseñar en la escuela secundaria. Al triunfo de una escuela de primeras letras organizada bajo el patrón de la simultaneidad, le siguió la progresiva extensión de institutos de segunda enseñanza.
English-speaking historians of Latin America use "schools of first letters" as well as "first letters schools". Either would be suitable. They were a type of elementary school but not the only type, and Toni is right that their historical specificity should be reflected and that "elementary schools" (or "primary schools" in British English) is really an anachronistic term. Here's Stanley C. Green, history professor at Texas A&M, recently retired, in his The Mexican Republic: The First Decade, 1823-1832, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987, p. 101:
"In the national capital there was a variety of elementary schools in the 1820s, the old coexisting with the new: pious schoosl of monastery and convent, municipal schools, schools for the Indian communities supported by funds of the parcialidades, free schools of first letters maintained by several colleges, and the private schools." https://books.google.es/books?id=j078TjNLWaMC&pg=PA101