It’s a big week for education in Chile: a preliminary bill has just been passed in the lower house of Congress and students are taking to the streets again on Thursday.
The education reform bill was approved by an 8-5 vote in the Chamber of Deputies Education Committee on Tuesday evening, despite demands from the opposition that the vote be delayed.
A pillar of President Bachelet’s election campaign, the reform aims to end co-payments, profit-making in education and discriminatory selection process in state-funded schools.
Parliamentarians discussed the reform details for several hours, with those opposed to the reform explaining their concerns. Evópoli party politician Felipe Kast rejected the initiative, saying they “don’t know how the project will be written up” and said he wished there had been “a couple of weeks for the government to include amendments.”
Independent Democratic Union (UDI) representative María José Hoffman said it was “not a good day for Chilean education.”
On the other side, Giorgio Jackson of the Democratic Revolution party said the project was a “tremendous breakthrough,” although he intends to offer suggestions on certain points. He added that “the principles are gathering us today, not the specifics.”
Education Committee President Mario Venegas told deputies they had until the next parliamentary session in September to present their recommendations.
The University of Chile’s Vice-Chancellor Ennio Vivaldi expressed his support for the government’s initiative, which he described as an “honest and sincere effort to rebuild public education.”