José Pedro Varela

Varela, José Pedro


Born Mar. 19, 1848; died Oct. 24, 1879, in Montevideo. Uruguayan teacher and leader in public education. President of the republic during the years 1875-76.

Varela organized the Society for Public Education in 1868, and in 1869 in the city of Cardona this society established the first experimental free elementary school. Várela was an inspector of the Main Board of Elementary Schools from 1877 to 1879, the organizer of teachers’ congresses, and the founder of the Pedagogical Encyclopedia (1878). He was the author of the law, dated Aug. 24, 1877, concerning universal compulsory free elementary education. It was based on the main principles of his work On School Legislation (1876). Like other educators Várela exaggerated the importance of education in the political liberation of the people and the social transformation of the country. Varela’s pedagogical views were set forth in his principal theoretical work, Educating the People (1874).