Reforming an educational model in Chile that segregates – Havana Times | Team Cansler

The privileged bicentenary schools in Chile

By Andrés Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – The recent announcement by Chilean Education Minister Professor Marco Antonio Avila about budget cuts and the start of an evaluation process of the bicentennial school program is good news for those of us who believe in a real strengthening of Chile’s public education system.

Since the program began in 2010 under the government of Sebastian Piñera, the Bicentennial School program has been a response to a neoliberal vision of education that had focused on competition between schools and a standardized curriculum and assessment process, creating high levels of school segregation and Apartheid placed Chile among the worst in the world.

For this reason, the Bicentennial School program has attempted to focus its economic and technical resources in specific schools of excellence across the country, which ostensibly would allow the most talented students from disadvantaged groups access to quality education and preclude the possibility of equal funding for each publicly funded school.

The problem with this program is that after more than 10 years in Chile it could lead to a new regional segregation as it still operates within an economic education approach and notwithstanding the brutal inequality between public and private education.

People who have defended this program and shouted bloody murder with what Minister Avila emphasized have said that this decision means lowering the level of education and affecting quality as these bicentenary schools get better results on standardized exams and school visits achieve TRUE.

Despite this, they forget that this program was born in a context where there was no inclusion law, and so they are schools that have selected, excluded and left out students, despite receiving public funding, with the argument for which they Schools are excellence, just like in the past with the so-called “emblematic” high-performance schools.

So we need to look at the 320 bicentennial schools in existence today and see if those institutions are indeed repeating a culture of school segregation and discrimination that persists with the Inclusion Act, but in a much more subtle way.

Therefore, grading a program like this – in this case the Bicentennial Schools – cannot be practical if it discriminates against students with the aim of getting the best scores on standardized tests, which also goes hand in hand with the concentration of the best teachers at these institutions , creating first-class and second-class schools in the same area.

It is also important to ask to what extent these institutions contribute to comprehensive and innovative educational projects that meet today’s challenges in terms of curriculum, not only how they teach but also what they teach. Or, on the contrary, are they just educational centers to train children in certain subjects or content (math, language and science) that impoverish the learning process?

If we don’t ask these questions, we will continue to get bogged down in an individualistic and non-contact educational paradigm that was sold as a success in 2010 by the government of the hour and the mainstream media of the time, but time has shown that it only served to increase malaise in society and perpetuate inequality.

The need to move toward a different education system is in the works, though Chile’s most conservative groups want to continue with what we have and reject any attempt at greater social and school equity. They cling to authoritarian and commercial notions of education that deny the opportunity to build a more inclusive, participatory and collaborative society.

It seems that certain groups continue to reject what has happened in Chile over the past 20 years and that although the proposal for a new constitution was rejected, this in no way diminishes the challenge it posed to various areas in Chile, in which the criticism of the education system was the focus and found a lot of support among the population.

However, for every Chilean, public education must be at the heart of the debate, very seriously, without shortcuts, with educational communities and with the greatest possible amount of evidence, without exclusion and measures that only aggravate the problem.

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