chilblog.jpg  Last Year's Strike in Santiago Teachers and students in Chile took part last week in strikes and demonstrations against the new education law in Chile The law would see university graduates being allowed to teach for five years without teaching qualifications which 'is a legal denial, in the sight of society, of the existence of pedagogy as a specialty. It undercuts the foundations of education departments and of policies for the improvement and the accreditation of teaching skills and methods,' according to Juan Eduardo García-Huidobro, an education academic. This policy is one being pursued in many countries as a result of neo-liberal reforms which undermine the right of children to be taught by qualified teachers, degrade the study of education methodology and weaken teacher trade unions. Ever since the end of the Pinochet regime in 1990, a neo-liberal education law has been in place (LOCE) which has allowed private companies a strong hold on public education. Private schools are given financial support by the state and are allowed to charge school fees - so-called 'shared financing'. The orginal draft of the new law would have made this illegal but pressure from right wing elements has meant that this situation is entrenched by the new law. The leader of the students' federation Frederico Hunneus said, 'We are going to work to mobilise civil society to prepare a draft law for a model of education for the people, that President Bachelet can take and present to parliament, and that will be a proposal that has truly arisen from all of the actors involved in the educational system.' This is not the first time Chilean students and teachers have been on the streets protesting against the neo-liberal education policies of the country. (see previous post). On this occasion the president of the National Teachers' Federation, Jaime Gajardo pronounced the strikes a success with 90% of teachers participating.