The faces of the privatization of education in Chile

In Alto Hospicio, the poorest commune in Chile, there is only one public high school, the Liceo Juan Pablo II. This High School is Municipal, it is a professional technician, it trains young people in specialties associated with mining exploitation, today it exceeds 1200 students. It has been managed for 10 years, in a public-private alliance, by Minera Collahuasi[iv] and the Educational Foundation of the National Agricultural Society[v]. This last foundation manages 20 public and private high schools throughout Chile, in which more than 12,000 young people are being trained in specialties related to mining and agricultural exploitation, all thanks to “the transfer by the Ministry of Education of its administrative powers to private organizations linked to the productive sector.” (SNA Educates).

In the IX region is the private subsidized rural school San Nicolás de Vilcún, in the heart of Mapuche territory this private subsidized Catholic school, struggles in the middle of the 21st century with the reproduction of ancestral culture. The school belongs to the Fundación para el Magisterio de la Araucanía, a private entity linked to the Church, which following the slogan “Evangelize and Educate” supports more than 170 schools between the X and IX regions, almost all in rural areas, many in the conflict zone with the ancestral communities that protect that territory from logging.

Since there are many of these foundations in Chile today, consolidated in urban and rural sectors, populations, and regions, they are the alternative to precarious public education. Belén Educa, Corporación Aprender, Fundación Arturo Irarrazabal, Fundación de la Santa Fe, others linked to the chamber of commerce, construction, many financed by donations from rentier and financial capital Like capitalism itself, they act in a network, coordinate, collaborate They share resources, and even intervene in or directly manage state schools, with religious educational projects, of a business nature, specially designed for the popular sectors, for their governance and exploitation.

Today, the foundations control the educational territory, given the setback of the public sphere, and they are organized to defend this control. They demonstrated it in the recent constituent conjuncture, where they launched a powerful political and media offensive in defense of free choice and against state education. Their spokespersons provoked in the constituent debate “Would you like the State to choose education for your children? That will happen if state funding is removed from non-profit foundations. [vi].”

Daniel Rodríguez, spokesman for Acción Educar, pointed out in the same vein in that same debate “Those who insist on undressing the saint of subsidized private education, in order to dress the saint of public education, will be left with nudity.” Add that “(…) inadequately guaranteed, this is without public financing, the freedom of choice can end in that only those who have resources, the rich, can choose the education they want”, that is why it prescribes that “It is not enough to allow different schools to exist (…) the State must promote diversity by financing families that choose educational projects other than the state one”. He ends by emphasizing that “Today more than 2 million children and young people and more than 496,000 higher education students exercise these rights thanks to the financial support of the State and its taxpayers, depriving them of them is an unacceptable setback.”

Both aforementioned organizations are articulated in defense of private education, financed by the great national business community, actively participated in the recent constituent debate. Nothing more to say, we are kidnapped by the business educational project. With this type of influence, the meaning and objectives of the educational system are hijacked by the business community. You really can’t choose, because the neoliberal school is subordinated to the needs of the market.

The faces of the privatization of education in Chile