Chliean student protests resume for 2013
April 11, 2013 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Students in Chile held one of their largest marches yet, continuing a campaign for greater public funding of education and in protest of Chile's significant economic inequality, particularly as it affects access to education. (Previously.)
posted by eviemath (2 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Chile does better than the OECD average in access to tertiary education according to the "Education at a Glance 2012: OECD Indicators" report. (Better than Denmark and Germany). This is one of the main student complaints, that poor kids don't get to go to University. There aren't figures for "how much does parental wealth affect educational outcome" for Chile in that report, sadly - but there are for the United States, which does very very poorly, so whatever the US system is doesn't work on that front.

A quick scan through the 2009 PISA report, however, suggests that Chile does below average in results in schoolchildren: however, they've made strong progress in improving the scores of the worst performers, and there is a huge gap in attainment between urban schools (better) and rural schools (worse). One assumes that the voucher scheme works in urban areas - where there is a choice - but not rural areas - where there isn't.

So it's clearly not the case that the voucher system and the localisation of school authority is an evil, capitalistic tool of oppression, but neither is it a utopian cure-all for poor education. As is usually the case, it's very complex and there are many many factors. I note the demand by the University students for particular standards for one ethnic group, and also that countries that do well in education tend to have less ethnic diversity (Finland, Korea). It may be that traditional discrimination and poor outcomes for a particular ethnic group in Chile affects the overall scores - perhaps the indigenous population in the country?

Increasing funding on higher (university) education would increase economic inequality, wouldn't it? The students that currently go would pay less, so they would be richer. But students who go to university are richer already - that's one of the complaints. And if more middle-class families can send their children there, it becomes a dating service for the middle classes - so classes marry each other.

Increasing funding for (or attention to) primary and nursery education is a way to reduce inequality. Funding for universities entrenches inequality - it's a subsidy for the well-off middle-classes who will send their children to university anyway.

Sure, you get some lower-class students who might benefit from university education: I don't know enough about the Chilean system to know if there is a good system of bursaries and funding for such students. The first OECD report above suggests something works okay.

State spending is usually captured by the middle classes: this looks on face value to me like an attempt to do just that.
posted by alasdair at 2:02 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was in Chile back when all of this started and saw some of it when I visited again six months later. I also have a ton of Chilean friends who I keep in touch with via Facebook, so I get a pretty good sense of how they feel about these things. Unfortunately, most of them are pinochistas (not great, I know), so they aren't the type of person to really side with the students. Not all of their friends are of the same political ideology, so through reading comments on their posts and statuses and such, I've learned a little bit of what other Chileans think as well.

One of the arguments I read stated that the violence and vandalism that a small portion of the protesters employ hurts the overall cause of the students. For instance, my ex-girlfriend and I were walking back from the mall or eating completos or something and noticed that there was hella traffic leading towards this intersection. We approached and realized that someone had set a fire in the intersection, that someone being students who were chanting. The students then removed a stop sign for seemingly no reason. People were yelling at them to stop being dicks, but they pulled the stop sign out of the ground anyway. My ex and I went back to the apartment where she called up the carabineros, who couldn't do shit.

In any case, it was interesting to be in Chile during that time and see empty schools with desks stacked in front of the entrances and to see people doing the thriller in front of La Moneda. Hopefully the whole thing ends well for the students.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 5:48 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

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