Thousands of Chilean students march demanding education reform
Thousands of young Chileans marched peacefully on Thursday in different cities demanding education reform and equal conditions and rights for all young Chileans, amid a heightened police presence.
From early morning young people began to converge to the capital Santiago in an organized fourteen communal simultaneous marches and demonstrations called by the Coordinating Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES) and supported by university students and other social organizations.
In downtown Santiago students marched towards the city’s squares, chanting slogans and carrying canvases to protest “profit-education” and demanding equal educational conditions for all Chileans.
The current Chilean education system, mostly privatized, dating back to the time of Dictator Augusto Pinochet, has become an excellent investment but also limits access to medium and low income families. OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) of which Chile is the only South American member, rates the Chilean educational system as the lowest of the group.
The demonstrations have been going on for over a year and have cornered the business oriented administration of President Sebastian Piñera, who declared that education is another resource of the economic equation, and favours the continuation of private system.
Demonstrations have led to repeated clashes with Carabineros which are accused of unnecessary violence. Last year a student was killed. Students occupying universities and high schools have been evicted with less violence but are then exposed to humiliating degrading situations forcing them to strip naked, both men and women while under arrest.
There has been no privacy or decorum. Girls have been left with psychological scars, have been evaluated psychologically and some are under treatment, claimed the president of the Parents and Guardians Coordinator, Dapne Concha, who asked authorities to rule on abuses committed by the police at demonstrations.
”This is an opportunity to demonstrate how better we are than the universities’ authorities, who have lately behaved in the wildest possible ways when conducting the evictions at certain schools”, said the head of the Catholic’s University Students Federation Noam Titelman.
Likewise, Titelman stated that “This is not something new as we’ve been going to Congress for the entire first semester where the Education Minister looked down at us and our proposals every single time.”