Magazine article New Internationalist

Agitating Students

Magazine article New Internationalist

Agitating Students

Article excerpt

CHILE

From high-school occupations to mass marches, Chile's students have been making their demands for free, quality, universal education heard. A few have even made their way to the national Congress, with four former student leaders taking their seats as some of the youngest MPs in the country's history.

Despite the pre-election promise of President Michelle Bachelet that education reform would be one of her three central priorities, student leaders are concerned that the measures proposed will merely perpetuate a system that is both expensive and segregated between the rich and the poor. So they are still protesting, agitating for fundamental change.

Bachelet's centre-leftgovernment has the tough job of negotiating between the students' demands and the need to compromise with centrist politicians and stay within the government's resources (which will include about $8 billion raised through a tax reform). In her election campaign, Bachelet promised to improve Chile's preschools, make subsidized private schools fully public, and extend scholarships to university students from the poorest 70 per cent of families. …

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