Among the demands of the students are greater government involvement in education, access to free education, the reconstruction of schools damaged by the February 2010 earthquake, and a change of the Chilean constitution
Medical Students consulted free of charge to patients as another form of protest against profits in education. Photo: ReutersZoom
SANTIAGO DE CHILE, June 13.— High school students in Chile held a national strike on Monday, occupying more than a hundred schools throughout the country, to demand a public school system not based on profits, reported Prensa Latina.
Student leaders confirmed that they had taken control of schools across the country including the University of Chile, the University of Santiago, the Metropolitan University of Educational Sciences, the Tecnologica Metropolitana, the Federico Santa María in Concepcion, and the Los Lagos in Puerto Montt.
The radicalization of the massive protests is seen in Chile as the beginning of a "New Penguin Revolution," in allusion to the student movement of 2006, which had similar demands of halting privatization and improving schools and education.
The undersecretary of Education, Fernando Rojas, confirmed that some 100 schools are currently occupied by students and an additional 40 are shutdown.
Among the demands of the students are greater government involvement in education, access to free education, the reconstruction of schools damaged by the February 2010 earthquake, and a change of the Chilean constitution —which to date is the same one approved by the Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) military dictatorship.
“If we don’t change the Chilean Constitution these problems will continue; we are not interested in band-aid solutions,” said Freddy Fuentes, a spokesman from the Metropolitan Students Federation.
Secondary students are calling for a massive march on Wednesday. In addition, Chilean university student unions continued mobilizing to protest Chilean institutions and the national economic, political and social model, and expressed support for a nationwide general strike called for Thursday in defense of public education.
"Education is a right and it is not guaranteed as such in Chile; instead, it is a service for which we have to pay for and therefore take on debt," said Camila Vallejo, president of the student federation at the University of Chile.
University students and teachers will begin their protest at the Alameda and march to the Plaza de la Constitución in front of the La Moneda government headquarters.