Educational Reform in Chile

For one month Santiago, Chile saw demonstrations by secondary school students who, as the central point of their demands, asked for the constitutional law of teaching (LOCE) to be repealed.

This legacy from the dictatorship, which was published the day before the transition to democracy began, completely devalues the role of the state in education and leaves the market as the great administration instrument of Chilean education.

In Chile the disparity between private and public high schools is abysmal. For example, in the SIMCE test, which measures the quality of education, the breach between state and private teaching showed itself grossly. In 2004, for example, 70% of the high schools that take lower class students maintained their low test results from previous years. 12% got worse results.

In terms of investment the inequality is evident. Given that the country spends 140,000 pesos monthly on private school students – on average – in contrast the investment in a municipal school student is less than 30,000 pesos monthly. Keep in mind that the private schools only educate 8.2% of Chilean students. What becomes clear is that an enormous majority of students (more than 90%) receive an awful education. Thus we can’t be surprised by the force and consistency of the student mobilization.

But inequality isn’t the only problem. There’s a problem with quality too, according to the international TIMSS test in 2003, which tested basic areas. Chile is at the same level as countries like the Filipines, Botswana, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, and South Africa, all extremely poor countries.

Simply said, the educational structure in Chile is in crisis, and this can be explained by the right’s subordination of the right to education to the search for profit. Keeping in mind that part of the problem is financial, they ought to increase the monthly investment in public school students, and subsidized students, to 90,000 pesos in order to establish the basic requirements needed to meet minimum standards in quality of public education.

For this true revolution they require an additional 3,329 million dollars. This large spending is perfectly possible if they apply a 30% royalty to mining, fish farming, forestry, and fishing. With only this measure they would collect close to 4,618 million dollars, a number sufficient for the cost of educating the children of a country that aspires to be developed. Similarly, if they applied a rental tax to the 1% of Chilean companies which do 96% of Chile’s exports, they would have an additional 3,620 million dollars available.

The secondary school students have remedied the opaque political situation in Chile that has ruled for the last 16 years. A decade and a half of suppressed hopelessness fills the hands of the students, youths who are from 15 to 17 years old, marching in the streets, resisting the hard political repression and raising a protest which – as is customary – The authorities devalue and de-legitimize.

Right now, these authorities see 850,000 students mobilized, but the students began the dialog and petitions a year ago. Obviously the commitment assumed by the educational authorities of the ex-president Lagos were disregarded. Today there are voices who point to the ex-president as the person responsible for the current educational crisis.

Regrettably, there are ministers and numerical technocrats who lend themselves to mask this aberrant situation. That is to say, that the Chilean state would rather have big businesses earn a lot of money than have the youth of Chile be educated adequately for the future that is not theirs alone, but instead the future of the whole country. For the Chilean state it is preferable that Luksic, Matte and Angelini are conspicuous representatives of Chile in the ranking of the richest enterprises in the world, than that Chileans educate themselves as people and citizens.

It is those presidents, ministers and technocrats that lend themselves to mask these groups economically and financially, such as the ex-president Lagos, who classified Luksic and Angelini as forgers of the homeland, who sow the seeds of hopelessness and violence. These technocrats, like the minister of housing, Andres Velasco, are responsible for a lot of the violence, drug addiction, suicide and bad lives many youths suffer as a result of a bad education which condemns them to kicking the same stones that the Prisoners already denounced in the 80’s.

This article originally appeared in and is translated by translator, GeN Higgs