Chilean students continue to push for educational reforms in Chile, following the passing of groundbreaking legislation by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet last month. Under the new law, profits, tuition fees, and selective admissions practices in any privately owned primary and secondary schools that receive funding through state subsidies.
However, the Chilean student movement believes further action needs to be taken. The well-organized University of Chile Student Federation has declared, “This is not the reform we mobilized for,” responding to the massive demonstrations that took place in Chile between 2011–2013.
“We have wasted a historic opportunity for educational reform, and also deeply damaged our democracy,” added Gabriel Boric, a student leader elected to Chile’s Congress in 2013.
Students even believe that the reforms may fail to provide the promised results, citing loopholes that allow for profit schools to continue making profits despite the new legislation.
It is important to note that the education system in Chile is very different from what exists in the US. Since many public schools in Chile are starved of resources, their quality has naturally declined. In fact, it has declined so far that only 37% of students are enrolled in public school. However, this has created a booming private education market, one that educates 56% of Chilean students.
We’ve written before about countries around the world where university students aren’t required to pay tuition fees, and it looks like Chile might be joining their ranks in the near future. President Bachelet has promised additional educational reform in the future, including free university education by 2020.
While last month’s legislation is arguably a good thing for Chile, it seems clear that there is a significant amount of change still on the horizon.
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