Political and cultural differences between Chile and the United States would surprise citizens of both countries. Jeff Wade, a BYU student who worked to document Chile’s student movement in June, observed how common it is for young people to aspire to be politicians.
“I’m eight years into college, and I’m still not into politics at all. High schoolers … are very aware of political issues, and everyone in Santiago had an opinion,” Wade said.
Universidad Mayor journalism students Cecilia Acevedo, María José Cortés, Claudio Dávila, Michelle Griño, Javiera Meneses, Nicolás Ponce, Yordan Ponce and Diego Vega report their country’s student movement to raise awareness even among non-students.
“The student movement has acquired an enormous importance, which has carried it to the current authorities to implement and foster certain changes,” Vega said. “The main problem with Chilean education is quality, and there’s where reform should begin.”
These students conducted street interviews in Santiago, Chile. Here are just a few of the responses they received. (Click on their pictures to see comments.)
“Education is living a process of change, and the mobilizations have played a fundamental role. At any rate, I believe that education cannot be free for all, if not only for those that cannot afford it and would never be able to afford it.” — Valentina Vega
“Education in Chile is bad. I’m not an advocate that it should be free because I believe there needs to be more spaces, both fiscal and private.” — Jeannette Troncoso, civil servant of the Army of Chile
“We must eliminate private property and, with that, the elimination of private schools, private subsidies because they contain an independent vision of education that isn’t of the state. It’s not a national context; rather, it’s a private context that continues sustaining the inequality of knowledge.” — Pablo Gómez, sociology student
“It’s a system of education that is practically obsolete at the Latin-American level, taking in account the processes that sister-countries live like in Bolivia, Argentina, where, although, it’s not a complete education in terms of cost-free or other things, we’re still at an inferior level as far public education goes.” — César Muñoz, history professor
“Education in Chile is first of all bad in the home. Today, many parents work and the children end up being educated by the nanny or by themselves. Today, we’re more independent, but there are many values not instilled in the home. Education in Chile is on its way to development.” — Diego del Canto, veterinary medicine student
“Education in Chile is deficient because those that teach, generally, are not professors. They’re just people that finish their degree.” — Gonzalo Crisostomo
“The preparation that a professor receives is very vague. It’s centered on the material, but the subject itself of education is not approached from an interrogative form; that’s to say, that it’s not all about sitting in the classroom and doing busy-work and passing the class — it’s a form of creating integral people, and the professors themselves are no longer doing it, and it leaves much to be desired.” — Masiel Contreras, former pedagogy in history student
“I believe that education is very uneven in Chile. There are many gaps in the economy and society, and that, I believe, needs to be reduced to improve education.” — José Jara, second-year medical student
“I worked for 30 years in education, and it should be more open, not as structured, so that children have other activities and develop their creativity.” — María Soledad Adán Santa María
“I see that the system is a little exclusive because despite the differences, public education is not free. For example, in Brazil we have free public education. What happens is there is unevenness between what is basic education and higher education because the best schools of basic education are private and the majority of the students come from those schools.” — Thiago Rodriguez, exchange student from Brazil
“I think it’s missing a lot to really be called education because political integration is missing, that it be more egalitarian and that all of us have access to quality education. Actually, I consider no one, not even in the best schools in Chile, do they really have access to a good education because in Chile, politics are standardized and totally incongruent to the context of our nation, for which reason you can’t generate a process of learning in people.” — Carolina Mora, special education student
“Chilean education has never been good, even less so for the poor — for the working class, never. Education has been very class-conscious, like the order of all things in Chile.” — Margarita Cofré Zuñiga