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Libertarians and the Bases for a Social Agreement for the Chilean Education System

category bolivia / peru / ecuador / chile | education | press release author Thursday August 11, 2011 15:00author by Chilean anarchist communists Report this post to the editors

A libertarian viewpoint from anarchist communists involved in the student mobiliztion of the proposals and the movement for education in Chile. Further below, the "Bases for a Social Agreement for the Chilean Education System", drawn up by university and secondary school students together with the Colegio de Profesores teachers' union. [Castellano]

Libertarians and the Bases for a Social Agreement for the Chilean Education System

On 1st August last the government presented the mobilized students with a document entitled "Policies and action proposals for the development of the Chilean education system". Over 19 pages, the government outlined concrete measures already announced in the Key National Education Agreement (Gran Acuerdo Nacional de Educación - GANE), an initial response to the students' demands. However, as with the GANE, this new document merely goes to show the enormous gap between the broad masses of the people, today represented by the student movement, and the dominant class.

Yet at the same time, it shows a much more complex and long-term growth and accumulation of force, which is gradually beginning to take greater and greater steps, making it clear that 2011 represents a turning point in the development of the class struggle in Chile. Just look at the conduct of the student movement which throughout the process has become increasingly concrete as it has pointed to the structural aspects of the education system while at the same time sought to make it harder for a way out imposed "from above", in the narrow framework of State and institutional policies, which hold that the market must have a leading role in seeking a solution to conflict and social needs. Unfortunately, some sectors have been insisting on trying to tip the mobilization towards calling for just this type of solution, by way of a "citizens' referendum".

It is for this reason that the proposal (see below), with all its limitations and indeed good points (which for reasons of space we will not deal with fully here), suggests much more than a mere educational crisis, but rather the first forceful, mass opposition to neoliberalism. Hence its radical importance as a point of reference for the continuation and development of the social movement.

Only two visions: education as a social right or education as a commodity

The vision of the ruling class is clear from the unsatisfactory way in which it deals with the central aspects of what the movement is demanding. An end to profit, and an end to municipalization and the concept of education as a social right, have all been ideologically interpreted by the government in all its responses. This can be seen in the centrality with which the idea of "quality in education" has been adopted (no matter how undefined that concept is), in the assurances of the continuing public nature of mid-level education, exceptional "de-municipalization" in cases of poor performance and supervision by means of a new Inspectorate on profit, already prohibited by law in universities (though permitted in technical and professional training institutes).

The aim here is to distract attention from the demands for structural changes to cosmetic changes which do not affect the meaning given to education, where the necessary democracy remains a mere formality, and seek to reduce the participation of the movement into the background, to the benefit of parliament and political party agreements without any mass participation. What is rejected is the empowerment of the community and advances in the fight for the educational and social system.

The scenario described here demonstrates that two sides are beginning to emerge in the confrontation - on the one hand, the better-defined side of the powerful, whose project is already in force in the private and State sphere, and on the other hand, the side of the exploited, which is still in formation, driven by the rise of mass struggle and the mobilization. Currently, the correlation of forces favours the former by a wide margin while they are trying to avoid radical changes in education, so a victory needs to provide political openings, currently closed off, for the revolutionary project despite the unprecedented call and the high level of the current mobilization. The rigidity of the government, together with those who are being involved in parliamentary negotiation and the referendum, are the arms with which they will try to institutionalize the solution and keep it within the system, but we must not forget that it is this same stubbornness that turned many lesser struggles into much greater ones.

Victory in defeat?

It is this context of a total lack of flexibility and political containment, coupled with the increase in social support for the mobilization (with high levels of participation in the marches and mass cacerolazos [i.e., banging empty pots and pans] such as the ones on 4th August), that we should be encouraged to think about what the movement should be doing once the cycle begins its phase of retreat or if a tactical victory is achieved on the demands. But it must be understood that only a broad popular movement will be able to crack this structure which is incapable of responding to popular expression.

Any retreat after these historic protests should not be considered as a defeat but as a step forward in the development of mass political consciousness. This progress must be consolidated through strengthening the student movement both politically and organically incorporating all students from professional institutes, technical training centres and private universities, who are mobilizing for the first time.

Furthermore, it should aim to forge closer links with different sectors of the working class, which is beginning to re-organize itself, organically, politically and ideologically. Lastly, only unity among all the popular sectors will enable us to turn these restricted advances into strategic victories, moving forward the fight for education and building popular power.

Today more than ever, unity in struggle is an essential element for the entire popular movement. The limits of the student movement will only lead to defeat if the other sectors of the people are unable to learn and gain something from the important lessons that this process can give us. The working class has made giant strides this year and everything points to an upward trend. And that is what we must be prepared for.

Basis of a Social Agreement for the Chilean Education System

The whole Chilean education system is being debated as part of a profound structural crisis: its programmatic bases, its objectives and goals, its forms of financing as well as its spectrum and competence were conceived for a historical period which has long since passed.

The mobilizations of students, teachers, rectors and education workers that have moved the country over the past few weeks have placed the need to deal with this structural crisis fully at the centre of debate and move forward towards the COMPLETE REFORM OF EDUCATION IN CHILE.

Today we want to call on the country's political actors, especially representatives of the National Congress, to explicitly commit themselves to the social demands to promote and guarantee a structural reform of the current system of education in the country, and endorse a commitment to implementing reform.

We are united by a firm belief that education is an essential element in achieveing a new historical project of democratic development that the country so badly needs in order to overcome the scandalous inequalities we see today. Hence the urgent need to restore education as a universal social and human right that must be guaranteed by the Political Constitution of Chile, so that it is structured around a new National System of Free, Democratic, Quality Public Education, organized and funded by the State at all levels - i.e., from the cradle on, providing continuous education.

The new system must be autonomous and democratic in order to preserve it from all interests, be they party-political, religious or economic, and must be internally organized in such a way as to encourage self-determination in the spheres of administration, regulation, teaching and finance. This will require democratic structures which can guarantee the right to participation and the freedom of association, but also community empowerment for the creation of educational policies independently of the government of the time.

Education must be pluralistic in order to guarantee free, public access to sources of information and knowledge, which can allow students to deal fully and criticaly with the various subjects, with a diversity of opinions, visions and disciplines. The generation and transmission of knowledge in public institutes must stand opposed to any form of dogmatism and indoctrinational practices.

Education must be of a high quality, in the sense that it must have the capacity to educate and provide content andvalues such as solidarity, tolerance, equality, respect for the environment, the identity and cultural and historical roots of our society and our native peoples.

Education must be able to create accomplished individuals, professionals, techincians and intellectuals with a critical capacity and profession ethic, free citizens adequately prepared to exercise democracy and social responsibility.

Public education must be free at all levels, in the sense that the State must provide the necesary resources to guarantee this right fully, without any socio-economic restricitions.

In short, we need the State to be the guarantor of the right to education so that our society can develop a mass of couscious, critical and committed citizens who are fully able to be involved in the intellectual, technical and professional work required for the democratic and just development of the culture, policies and economy of our society.

This requires us to conceive education as a social and not merely individual investment which is necessary if we are to fight inequality and achieve freedom and social justice.

To make such guarantees by the State feasible, it is urgent that we establish a broad discussion about new forms of financing that address a series of questions, from tax reform to the recovery of our country's natural resources.


In order to achieve the objectives described above, our proposal are based on the following basic points, around which we call on the members of parliament to commit themselves explicitly to transform into legislation:

I. Constitutional Reform

The Constitution will have to enshrine education as a basic right and public asset, which the State will be responsible for providing, ensuring the principles that it will be free, universal and of high quality at the levels of pre-school, elementary and mid-level education.

Furthermore, with regard to Higher Education, the Constitution must guarantee the existence of a non-profit making tertiary system where access, quality and the necessary financing are guaranteed by the State so that every citizen can obtain a higher-eduction qualification.

II. Lower-Level Education

Lower-Level Education includes pre-school, elementary and mid-level education. At mid-level it includes both scientific and humanistic studies as well as polytechnic or professional-technical studies.

In this context, and without prejudice to other subjects, what is basically sought is:

A. De-municipalization of Education

In its place there will be created a new National System of Public Education under the aegis of the Department of Education, of a decentralized nature, in the form of a Public Service with its own assets and specialized in the administration of lower-level public education. The creation of this new institutional framework must be discussed together with all those involved: teachers, education assistants, students and representatives.

All educational establishments will depend on this new National System of Public Education as far as dministration and financing are concerned.

B. New Financing System

The New System of Financing will ensure a basic contribution to all educational establishments via a budget and not by way of assistance, for which a schedule will be implemented through which an end will be put to the system of grants and all form ofprofit-making in those establishments that receive public financing.

C. Teaching Careers Founded on Dignity and Quality

New laws must be introduced to provide for techers' professional careers to be based on merit and experience, providing for various stages of professional development, giving dignity to teachers from the point of view of their remuneration, including starting pay, incentivizing the best talents and encouraging them in pedagogical studies that will guarantee them professional development, social appreciation and continuous training, with the help of a strong system of accreditation as well as adequate ratio of teaching hours to non-teaching hours, all of which will guarantee high standards of teaching in the public education system.

Furthermore, norms must be created for educational assistants based on dignity and quality, which can regulate and recognize the functions of these workers.

D. Regulation and control of the creation of new subsidized establishments

The immediate suspension of the creation of new subsidized establishments until objective parameters have been created which can justify the creation of new establishments and until the new scholastic institutions are operational which will be linked to an educational inspectorate, an educational quality agency, a new public structure for educational administration and until changes have been implemented in the financing system for lower-level education.

E. School Transport

An efficient and sufficient service of year-round, free and safe school transport for all students must be ensure, particularly in outlying regions.

F. National Plan for Rebuilding and Renovation of School Infrastructure

Draw up and execute a National Plan for the rebuilding and renovation of infrastructure in public education facilities so as to guarantee that the educational process can be carried out under basic conditions of dignity and safety.

G. Polytechnic or Technical-Professional Education

In this country there is no State policy with regard to technical education; neither at secondary level nor at higher level, nor even with regard to the integration of both.

Technical-professional or polytechnic education at school level must be able to rely on its own financing system, with the appropriate infrastructure according to scientific and technical advances so that it is qualified and appropriate to each speciality.

Likewise, polytechnic students must have basic guarantees for the full development of their education, including appropriate and practical professional insurance.

H. Democratization

Democratizing the participation of secondary-level students, reformulating Decree No.524 with regard to Students Centres, and thusstrengthening their role and legally recognizing Secondary Student Federations.

Through the decision-making structures of School Councils, there must be guarantees for the participation of all involved in the school community, giving them a legal framework where its obligatory and periodical role is specified.

III. Higher-Level Education

Third-level education in Chile has grown exponentially but in an unregulated manner over the past decades. Its growth is not the fruit of a national policy with defined objectives but, rather, the opposite. It has been unorganized, with varying quality and high costs, answering only to the logic of the market and not to a national development plan.

Today it is essential that we reform the Higher-Level Education System so that it follows these guidelines:

  • Higher-level Education, as a public asset, must be the fruit of a State Policy, with wide-ranging, defined vision and the participation of all stakeholders, which must be pursued with a series of wide agreements and with a sense of urgency.
  • The system of Higher-Level Education must be recognized by the State as a basic pillar for the social, cultural, educational, humistic, economic, scientific and technological development of the country.
  • The State must commit itself to significantly increasing the amount of state financing of the third-level education system in order that it may, within a reasonable period, reach that of OECD countries and thus cease to be a burden on the shoulders of families.
A. University Education

i. Institutional Financing

  1. The creation of a Basic Contribution to Public Universities, which embodies a new deal between the Stateand the Universities and recognizes the economic and financial commitment of the State towards them, thus putting a stop to the logic of self-financing of these institutions and guaranteeing that students have access to them free of charge.

  2. Substantially increase Direct Fiscal Contributions (AFD) unrestricted, permanent and progressive in order to favour growth, local development and sustainability of CRUCH Universities (Consejo de Rectores de las Universidades Chilenas, Chile's so-called "traditional universities"), with the aim of guaranteeing their projects for the public good. Likewise, workers' remuneration must be adjusted annually by the IRSP (Public sector readjustment index), so that it does not rely on higher student fees.

  3. Revitalization Fund for the traditional universities to be freely available for the university communities who will themselves decide the use of these resources. Priority should be guided by:
    • University property (State/Private CRUCH)
    • Regional condition
    • Socio-economic composition of students
    • Economic solvency of the Universities (debt/budget)
ii. New systems of access:

More equitable, guaranteeing equal opportunities. Moving quickly towards a more equitable system with equal opportunities for all, enabling the CRUCH universities to ably fulfil the social and vocational role for which they were founded.

It is vital that we ensure the most representative participation of the socio-economic situation in the country as far as university access in each institution is concerned, diminishing the preponderance of the University Selection Test (PSU) in the admissions process and evaluating its relevance in a trasparent way.

Move to create a complementary mechanism for access, that must be publically known and duly informed, taking into aspects such as academic performance in previous education (ranking), existing levels of students' education and levelling mechanisms.

Furthermore, access and suitable study conditions must be guaranteed to higher-education students with special needs.

iii. New Student Financing System

  1. A total restructuring of the higher education system will be promoted, focusing on the fact that it will be free for all CRUCH universities, thus eliminating the need for families to go into debt. To achieve this it will be necessary to creat a strong system of State financing for CRUCH universities, which can cover all the expenses of each and every student in Chile.

  2. A system of scholarships for all students from the 70% of lower-income families in private, non-traditional institutes.

  3. Lastly, create a single solidarity fund system for the remaining 30% of Chilean students in private non-profit institutes, thus eliminating the CAE (State-backed credit for students) and the private bank of the university financing system.
    In a similar manner, complementary financial assistance to students must be adapted and widen its coverage to include every student in the country.

  4. Private universities that receive State funding through grants and loans must meet the following standards:
    • They must be completely non-profit making
    • Institutional accreditation, in all categories
    • Guarantee the principles of freedom of association and expression
    • Ensure and promote the existence of Student Federations
    • Total transparency in the use of financial resources.
  5. From the amounts of fees to private study plans, fees will be set in future by means of a known formula, validated by the National Accreditation Commission and the higher education inspectorate.
    Fees cannot be unilaterally raised by any higher education body, be they in receipt or not of direct or indirect public funding.

iv. New Institutions

a) Creation of a Higher Education Inspectorate

This Inspectorate must have all the necessary powers to ensure transparency of the financial and academic situations of all higher education institutes.

It will have the the ability to oversee and enforce the law probiting profit-making in all higher education institutes.

This body should ensure that all institutes of higher education are subject to mechanism of public information, monitoring and control. Public accountability of all higher education institutes will be obligatory, including semi-annual publication of statistics to include detailed information on all income, expenses and contractual ties.

b) New National Accreditation System

Obligatory accreditation will be established for all Higher Education institutes and the profesions within them, through autonomous and transparent public agencies which incorporate creteria of quality, adequacy of the institute's performance and thecountry's educational objectives, regional development, the existence of student, academic and functional bodies. This new, rigorous system of accreditation must be a priority, befor any increase of resources to the private sector.

v. Democratization

The higher education system must ensure and monitor that Constitutional Rights and Guarantees are being observed, especially the participation of all stakeholders in the educational process; the free expression of ideas with freedom and autonomy; organization and association unlimited except in the manner established by the Constitution.

The participation will be proposed of the various sectors of the university community in collegiate bodies, for which legal reforms will be promoted in support of the repeal of sections 56e), 67e) and 75e) of Department of Education Legislative Order DFL2/2009 Mineduc, to end all legal prohibitions preventing the participation of the university community in this area, and also guaranteeing the right to organize of stakeholders in all institutes of higher education.

vi. Educational and linguistic rights for Native Peoples

Guarantee an inclusive and pluralistic educationl system that incorporates the educational and linguistic rights of the native peoples and interculturality in the educational system. For this we propose:

  1. The creation of a public, intercultural State university.
  2. An increase in the amount of Indigenous Grants and the quantity of its beneficiaries.
  3. The creation and incorporation into plans and programmes, curricula and institutional educational projects of indigenous educational contents considering the place in which they are carried out in relation to the language, history and world vision of each of them.
  4. The legal recognition of places utilized by indigenous students (indigenous households) as well as implementation of a public policy for households.
B. Technical Training Centres and Professional Institutes

The country indebted to higher-level technical and vocational training. A review must be made not only of the transition and access from secondary education, the mechanisms of accreditation of institutes and those who work in them, but also to put an end to the current profit- and market-based system that has taken over the technical training and professional training institutes. This situation principally affects students from the weaker sectors of society in the country.

It will be forbidden to transfer public resources of any nature directly or indirectly to profit-based technical and professional training institutes, establishing a reasonable but defined period of time to achieve this.

Furthermore, and in the absence of institutes of a public nature, the State will ensure the presence of State-supplied education in technical and professional training in every region of the country, creating a National Network of Technical Training, free and of high quality.

The Students of Chile

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office

author by Bigopublication date Fri Aug 12, 2011 05:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

El aporte de la FdCA es notable, mil gracias compañeros por hacer posible que los compas de los demás países se vayan enterando con más detalle de cómo van pasando las cosas en este país. Mil gracias.

arriba las y los que luchan.


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