The fight for quality public education in Chile is counting on increasing international support, as teachers and students take to the streets to defend their rights in the face of new reforms.
Chile has been the centre of attention when it comes to reforms in the education system with President Bachelet promising that she would make public education a reality, including 100% free higher education in 2016. However, teachers are being excluded from the bargaining process - an “unacceptable circumstance” according to officials from the union. They demand a change in the conditions stipulated in the new law, especially as regards pensions, professional qualifications and teaching conditions, and so far their voice has not been heard or sought.
Teachers and students have long opposed a privatised system that has led to the exclusion of a significant part of the population, pushing the government to promote deep changes. But with the changes being solely led by the government, this week, the Colegio de Profesores de Chile, affiliate of Education International (EI) in the country, has called for mass protests and street demonstrations in order to raise awareness on the working conditions of teachers under the new law that will shortly be adopted.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), also a member of EI, has backed the Chilean cause with a video on its YouTube channel featuring President Randy Weingarten expressing her solidarity.
"Education is an essential right and a cornerstone of shared prosperity. Protecting it is our obligation. The 1.6 million members of the AFT stand with you”, says Weingarten in her message.
Weingarten has promised the AFT's full support to Chilean educators and students in their fight for public education and against profit in education.