The latest round in the long struggle for properly funded and democratic public education in Chile, took place on Friday 11th October, with teachers from all over the country taking part in a one day strike and mass rallies. 30,000 marched in the capital Santiago and a further 20,000 in other parts of the country.

The teachers were striking against the closure of schools and against a new law, which has been passed without the participation of teachers, and which will require students to take an extra test after they have completed their teaching qualification, in order to be allowed to teach.

The teachers say that they are not against teachers having to take a test to show that they are able to teach, but that if there is going to be a new test it should be part of their course. In a situation where anyone who is not rich in the country has to run up massive debts in order to qualify as a teacher, they say that this new law could lead to a situation where a young person has got themselves into debt and passed all the relevant qualifying exams, only to fail this new test and be unable to teach.

The union says that the new moves by the government further strengthen the private sector and weaken public education, a situation which is already far advanced in the country, thanks to the neo-liberal legacy of the dictator Pinochet and the country's being used as a test bed for the education 'reform' policies of the so-called Chicago Boys - economists trained by the arch neo-liberal economist, Milton Friedman.  

As a result, according to the OECD, Chile has the most unequal and most expensive education system in the world - with the state paying about 30% of the amount that other comparable countries in the area spend on education.

The teachers were joined by students on their demonstration. It is the students who have consistently been in the forefront of the struggle in Chile for free and public education, as after post on this website attests.