Sunday, August 5, 2012

7/17-  Lecture: Education in Chile by Dr. Cristian Bellei PhD in Education (Harvard University)

We had the fortunate experience to attend a lecture and speak with Dr. Bellei, a researcher for CIAE (University of Chile).  The paper we read from him was about the public and private school controversy in Chilean education (Bellei, 2005).  His findings about the neo-liberal policies adopted from the Chicago Boys, of which Milton Friedman was a member, in the United States after the military coup of 1973 were astonishing. Private institutions in all levels of education have become the majority provider in Chile and public schools were seen as a last resort for parents to enroll their children.  This is a sad fact for many academics that agree that it creates a system where social mobility through educational opportunities is decreased.  If one cannot pay to attend elite private institutions, then one’s chances of success in life are limited.  One of the major providers of this private education is the Catholic Church.  There are also schools for women and other religions.  The voucher system seems to have pushed this system further into the grains of society- so many schools will accept or deny students based on factors like income, race, religion, space, scores etc.  Where policymakers thought that market competition would increase the quality of educational facilities for students, it seems that the opposite has occurred.  Faculty members have to take multiple jobs to make enough money to live, otherwise known as “taxicab” professors, because they have to travel to various places of work instead of devoting themselves to one institution and research.  So, while school is available to all members of society, there is a problem with the quality that is offered.  A PISA study that Dr. Bellei presented indicated that the 2009 inclusion index had Chile at below 50%, meaning that it is very segregated.  The neo-liberal agenda espoused by Milton Friedman and the Chicago Boys during the military regime proved to have failed many members of society in Chile.

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