Chile: building a new educational understanding

These days one of the issues that is capturing the attention of Chilean bloggers is the educational reform. The LOCE, Constitutional Organic Law of Students is being reformed to a new law called the General Law of Education (PLEGE) (ES).

Michele Bachelet, president of Chile declared that origin of the LOCE was authoritarian and that this new reform is based upon republican and democratic visions “and in a democracy, a law has to legitimize the popular sovereignty and the current LOCE, clearly does not count on this legitimacy”

This could be a reference to the beginnings of the current educational law, which was made during the dictatorship period under Augusto Pinochet.

One of the two issues of conflict of this reform has to do with the selection of students during the first schooling period and the elimination of profit for private institutions.

Mariana Aylwin, ex Minister of Education (and son of Patricio Aylwin, ex Chilean president) , posts (ES) that the public schools used to select children, because before there were not enough schools for all of them. She also refers that the schools that still have to select students because there is more demand, that should make a transparent selection process.

The number of schools has grown in the last few years. José Joaquín Brunner, (ES) an expert in education explains that the private educational for-profit sector gives education to half of the Chileans students, which means one million students. So any decision in this matter should be oriented to strengthen the relation between the public and the private sector.

To understand other general issues in discussion, Rodolfo (ES), a professor of the University of Talca explains some general differences about this new reform:

“Actualmente la LOCE se centra en que el Estado debe resguardar la libertad de enseñanza, sin prestar similar atención al derecho a la educación. El proyecto propone equiparar ambos derechos. La LOCE actual no obliga al Estado a financiar un sistema gratuito que asegure el acceso a la enseñanza preescolar; la modificación extiende esta obligación a la enseñanza preescolar.

En la actualidad la LOCE permite el financiamiento público a instituciones educacionales privadas con fines de lucro, creadas sin mayores exigencias respecto de su creación y continuidad. En paralelo las escuelas municipales deben funcionar con subvenciones irrisorias basadas en la asistencia y sin real autonomía. El resultado lo tenemos a la vista: una educación de mala calidad. Por eso extraña que se afirme que la LOCE no tiene nada que ver con una educación de calidad: tiene mucho que ver. Lo anterior no implica que la LOCE sea la solución para una educación de calidad, pero ella contiene las bases conceptuales, los fundamentos, los cimientos, sobre las cuales se construye el sistema educativo. Lo que corresponde es que ella recoja la amplia experiencia nacional e internacional en la materia”.

Currently, LOCE is centered on the fact that the State should guarantee the freedom to teach, without giving the same attention to the right of education. The proposal of the project wants to balance these rights. The current LOCE does not obligate the state to finance a free system that includes access to preschool education, the modification extends the obligation to include preschool education.

In reality, the LOCE allows for public financing of educational private for-profit institutions, created without any great demands on their creation and continuity. The public schools, in comparison, have to operate with ridiculous subsidies based on attendance and without real autonomy. We can see the results: Bad educational quality. Because of that it is strange to see the assertion that the LOCE has nothing to do with a quality education: it has a lot to do with it. This doesn’t mean that the LOCE is the solution for a quality education, but this contains the conceptual bases, the grounds, the foundations in which the educational system is built. These correspond to widen the national and international experience in this issue.

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