Education and Class in Chile and the Need for a National Conversation in El Salvador

“We wish to thank Mr. Gasteazoro for his valuable contribution to our blog. It is an opinion piece from an outside source, and as such, however, does not necessarily reflect the views of CAFRED. That being said, we welcome any and all independent submissions, and/or comments about any and all articles on this blog in the spirit of lively debate. Please submit articles to info@cafred.org for review. Comments are welcome directly below the article. Please be respectful.”

By Gabriel Gasteazoro – Law Student at Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas.

Roberto Pizarro Hofer, economist and graduate of the University of Chile, mentions that according to the Organization of Cooperation and Economic Development (OCDE), Chile has one of the most exclusive education systems in the World. Other data from the OCDE show that in all of Latin-America, Chile possesses the most expensive education and is the only country in the Region in which all the universities charge a hefty tuition. The right to education should be guaranteed since the citizen of the State is naturally the principal motivation and end activity of the State. All persons should have the right to choose between private or public education, but when a citizen does not have the luxury of choice, due to their economic situation, what should remain is public education.
Public schools and universities in poor condition, with under-educated professors and few teaching resources abridge the public’s true right to education. This problem arises from bad public policy, but the solution depends on a well-supported analysis of where we are. One of the solutions could be a slight increase in taxes going directly to public education or to redirect our current investments. In order for this to happen, our public would need to initiate a National Conversation.
Chile is certainly a country with a better economic situation than El Salvador and its education is better than ours, but even so, its educational system suffers from failures. As we have mentioned, Chile’s education is one of the most exclusionary of the World. Chile’s economically advantaged have the right to education – which is positive – yet the more impoverished and even the middle class lack affordable access.
Chile does not seek to have an education only for the few and it is impossible that any rational State would want that. However, its educational system seems to seek it, due to the many academic studies that point to its exclusivity. Private education in Chile, although subsidized by the State, is a clear example that it is a privilege, as students can easily accumulate student loan debt upwards of 20 thousand dollars with no guarantee of employment. Many students drop of college for fear of never being able to repay.
The World Bank and the OCDE show that the yearly tuition averages around three thousand dollars – when in El Salvador it might cost $50 US. The student protests in Chile show a vast disparity. In El Salvador, we should guard against dramatic increases in fees. Private education should be, as its financial incentive increases competitiveness between higher Institutions of learning, thereby improving it. Private education, however, should not exist at the exclusion of good public education since not all citizens have access to it.
The State should seek low-cost public education with good infrastructure and professors of quality, insuring the necessary access to all its quality students, thereby democratizing education and attracting more financial investment for the country by insuring a well-educated workforce.
Chile has a serious problem in its education system, but we can learn from its mistakes. Private education is necessary, but public education is indispensable. A balance , thereby protecting the privilege of educational choice while protecting the right to education for those with limited choice. El Salvador does not have the same problem as Chile, but it is important to know the educational problems of our region to know our reality as a Region. By investigating and analyzing different realities we will be able to give the keys to make changes for greater progress.
The State should seek free and public education with good infrastructure and professors of quality, insuring free access to all its quality students, regardless of their family’s ability to pay, thereby democratizing education and attracting more financial investment for the country.
Chile has some serious faults in its education system, but we can learn from its mistakes. Private education is necessary, but public education is indispensable. A balance is needed, thereby protecting the privilege of educational choice while protecting the right to education for those with limited economic choices. El Salvador does not possess the same problem that Chile, but is indispensable to know the educational problems of our region to know our reality as a Region. By investigating and analyzing different realities we will be able to provide the keys to implement changes for greater progress.

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