Education reform in Chile

When it comes to thinking “how to raise you kids” about which I talked on the previous entry, it is also important to take into consideration “which school children go”. When I was taking 9-year long Japanese compulsory education in public school, I never thought about the education policy, let alone the modification of it. In fact, every now and then it had changed during I was there and I just had to adapt myself to the change and I never questioned on it.

In Chile, however, where students protest happen much more frequently than Japan, it is not the case. Recently, students, teachers, and other stakeholders on education are reacting to the Education reform the new government is trying to pass. And it is becoming so controversial.

Chilean education has three basic model:
(1). Public (PUB) Schools,
(2). Private (PRI) Schools and
(3). Publicly subsidized Private (PP) schools.

The reform is trying to get rid of the last one (PP Schools) in order to solve the problem of “Inequality” and “Education as Business” that many education stakeholders have been discussed about. (e.g., The level of inequality is one of the top in the world).

So the contents of the reform proposed by the new government are as follows:
-No more co-paying (parents in some schools are paying part of the tuition to support the school)
-No more selection (when kids entering the school)
-No more PP schools (the property will be either of the states or private one so current PP schools director has to decide either to sell (to become PUB school) or buy it (to become PRI school)

From these changes, PP schools have to change the structure, which will affect students, teachers and director of those schools.

Some data on this change are:
-70% of the PP schools are not owner of the property;
-27.5% of the PP school directors are thinking about closing schools (in which 300,000 students study);
-8.9% will be converted into PV schools.
(Source: El Mercurio)

For my work, I visited several PP schools and as I was interested in how this reform would affect them, I talked with 5 different PP school directors.

It was interesting that they all mentioned the extent to which it would worsen (to a greater or lesser degree) and nobody talked about the improvement:

“Well, my school has no Co-pay nor selection so it would not effect so much and we are lucky for that. But the property will not be ours and that’s a little bit sad, but what can we do about it…(Director of PP school 1)”

“It’s not good. Our school exists thanks to co-pay that the parents would offer and we don’t force them. But without that, our education system would not be maintained..(Director of PP school 2)”

And what’s more interesting is that some students are taking this opportunity to protest more, saying that they are not against the reform but it needs more changes. Their claims include: Ending PSU (College entrance exam), Ending school ranking (also used for college entrance), more focus on public schools.

The Chilean government is saying “the information on the reform is misunderstood, we will change things gradually in order to take inequality away and to improve the quality of national education system.

Let’s see what will happen.

It is also interesting that Chilean people with whom I talked to often say “Japan is developed and the education system must be perfect”. But each country has things to improve and nothing is perfect. At least the trial to improve is going on.



2 thoughts on “Education reform in Chile

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