By Andres Cogan Valderrama
Havana Times – The latest announcement from Chile’s Education Minister, Professor Marco Antonio Avila, about budget cuts and the beginning of the evaluation process for the Bicentennial School Program is good news for those of us who truly believe in strengthening Chile’s public education system.
Since its inception in 2010 under the Sebastian Piñera government, the Bicentennial School Program has been a response to a neoliberal idea about education that focused on competition between schools and a standardized curriculum and assessment process, creating high levels of school segregation and segregation, which Chile developed Among the worst countries in the world.
That is why the Bicentennial School Program has sought to focus its economic and technical resources on certain outstanding schools across the country, which, it is claimed, will allow the most talented students of the vulnerable to receive a quality education, closing the opportunity to create equal funding for each school with the support of the public.
The problem with this program is that, after running for more than 10 years in Chile, it could lead to the creation of a new regional chapter because it still operates within an economic approach to education, regardless of the brutal inequality between public and private education.
The people who defended this program and shouted bloody murder with what Minister Avila referred to, said that this decision means lowering the level of education, harming the quality, because bicentennial schools achieve better results in standardized exams and school attendance, and it is true.
However, they have forgotten that this program was born in a context where the Inclusion Act did not exist, and so they are schools that selected students, expelled them and left them abroad, despite receiving public funds, using the pretense that they are affiliated schools. Excellence, just as has happened in the past with so-called ‘token’ high performing schools.
As a result, we need to look at the 320 bicentennial schools that exist today and see if these institutions are in fact replicating the culture of segregation and discrimination in schools, which still exists even with the Inclusion Act, but more accurately.
Therefore, evaluating a program like this—bicentennial schools, in this case—could not be viable if it singled out students, aiming for the best scores on standardized tests, which also corresponded to the concentration of the best teachers in these institutions, leading to To establish first and second class schools in the same area.
At the same time, we must also ask how much these institutions contribute to the curriculum, not only in how they teach, but also in what they teach, in both inclusive and innovative educational projects, that address today’s challenges. Or, on the contrary, are they just educational centers to train children on certain topics or content (mathematics, language and science) that impoverish the learning process?
If we don’t ask these questions, we will be stuck in an individualized and intangible educational model, which was sold by the clock government in 2010 and by the media at the time as a success, but time has shown that it only served to increase malaise in society and perpetuate the inadequacy of equality.
A move towards a different educational system is needed, although the more conservative groups in Chile want to continue what we have and reject any attempt at greater social and scholastic justice. They cling to authoritarian and commercial ideas about education, which deny them the opportunity to build a more inclusive, participatory, and collaborative society.
It seems that some groups continue to reject what happened in the last twenty years in Chile, and that although the proposal for a new constitution has been rejected, this does not detract in any way from the challenge it poses on various fields in Chile. , where criticism of the education system was at heart, and it received much support from the general population.
However, the public education of every Chilean citizen, without exclusions and measures that only exacerbate the problem, must be at the center of the debate in a very serious way, without shortcuts, with the educational communities and with as much evidence as possible.
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