Students gathered at a number of Santiago’s metro stations on Wednesday to stage a protest against the rejection of a new constitution by voters. This new constitution would have, among other things, expanded social rights and enhanced environmental regulations.
During the demonstration, students called for changes to Chile’s educational system, arguing that the country’s existing system is plagued by significant levels of socioeconomic inequality, technical disparities, and gender discrimination.
After the new constitution was found to be unconstitutional, the progressive President of Chile, Gabriel Boric, was forced to restructure his whole cabinet in order to widen the coalition of the government in order to further progressive reform.
Students in Santiago, Chile, brought their frustrations with the country’s broken education system and the country’s rejected constitution, which was supposed to improve the system, to the city’s subway stations.
At an early hour in the morning, the Santiago Metro began to indicate that it would be temporarily suspended since the students were holding up various stations around the city.
After many people urged for “required” reform, Chilean voters opted on Sunday not to adopt the new Constitution that was offered by Boric with an overwhelming majority.
A new, more progressive constitution, which was much needed for the country, was drafted by the government over the course of around two years’ time.
The present constitution was drafted in 1980 by Augusto Pinochet, who had previously governed Chile as a dictator for 17 years. The fact that the private sector is allowed to participate in the provision of education, pensions, and healthcare is one of the issues with the existing constitution.
The proposed constitution had 388 articles that were centered on reforming topics such as the legalization of abortion, gender parity in government jobs, the elimination of Chile’s senate, the establishment of autonomous Indigenous areas, the improvement of educational rights, housing, and pensions, as well as the right to universal health care and new environmental regulations that would restrict the copper industry. All of these concerns were included in the draft constitution.
At the referendum held this year to decide whether or not to accept the new Constitution, 62% of Chileans voted against it, describing it as too progressive and too drastic of a transition for the country to be able to bear at the present time.
Despite the fact that the most recent constitution was shot down in a referendum, the vast majority of Chileans continue to advocate for a new constitution that is modern and progressive but also more accurately represents the core principles upon which the nation was founded.
Anita Serrano Bezan, a trainee teacher from Chile who is 22 years old, states that her experiences working as an online instructor during the COVID-19 epidemic have shown her that the Chilean education system has numerous issues that need to be addressed.
Inequality on a socioeconomic scale, a lack of technical advancement, and discrimination against women are some of the system’s most pressing problems.
According to Bazán, “During my time working and studying in Chilean schools, I have seen that instructors prefer to reserve the most demanding math and scientific activities for males, which inhibits girls from taking leadership positions in these subjects,” said Bazán. “In my time working and studying in Chilean schools, I have observed that teachers tend to reserve the most challenging math and science activities for boys.”
In line with this, data reveal that women are underrepresented among STEM graduates and professionals; in Chile, just one out of every three researchers is a woman.
A significant problem in the field of education is students’ socioeconomic standing. Only six out of every ten Chilean households are able to afford the high expense of education, which is according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to be among the highest tuition prices for public schools anywhere in the world.
The socioeconomic class gap in education is widening even more as a result of the proliferation of online education. This is due to the fact that families in Chile who lack access to modern technologies, such as the internet, have a reduced likelihood of obtaining the education their children need.
There is a significant digital gap between urban and rural regions in Chile, with 60% of the rural population without internet connection, compared to 40.9% of the urban population. In 2021, a poll indicated that 73% of Chileans had trouble utilizing online schooling during the pandemic.
On the other hand, educational reform is only one of the problems that the people of Chile wish to see solved. It would seem that none of these will be addressed until Chilean politicians manage to design a constitution that is progressive but not too progressive, and which indicates change – but not too much, and not too soon. This is due to the fact that the most recent constitution, which had been drafted over the course of years, has already been thrown in the garbage.