Recently, thousands of Chilean students protesting as President Michelle Bachelet promoted her education reform bid to lawmakers. She made revamping the education system a key campaign promise in last year’s presidential elections. The system favour for-profit private schools.
However, many students in the South American country aren’t convinced about Bachelet’s efforts will fully satisfy their demands for free and quality education.
In the capital Santiago, the students occupied a school overnight and blocked the main street downtown.
Chile’s education system has roots in free-market policies promoted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). It’s been a target of mass protests since 2011. What students wants is free education from elementary school to university level.
About 52% of Chilean students are enrolled in the for-profit schools, financed with a combination of state subsidies and “family co-payments”.
Mrs. President unveiled a reform bill Monday that would eliminate the co-payments and replace them with increased subsidies – but only to non-profit educational institutions. Some 3,470 for-profit schools would have two years to switch to a non-profit status or lose their state subsidies.
The bill also would bar selective admissions to schools receiving state subsidies.