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News > Latin America

Chile Students Ask President Bachelet to Change Education Bill

  • Chilean students protesting in Santiago last week.

    Chilean students protesting in Santiago last week. | Photo: EFE

Published 21 December 2017

Their request comes few months before former conservative President Sebastian Piñera replaces Michelle Bachelet as head of state.

The Confederation of Chilean Students, also known as Confech, delivered a letter to President Michelle Bachelet Thursday to implement  education reform before she leaves office in March next year.

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Representatives of the student union met with Bachelet and handed her the letter “expressing discontent about the various reforms” implemented during her administration,” said Josefina Canales, the President of the Student Federation of Catholic University.

Canales also asked the outgoing president for the “creation of a dialogue with students so the legislation currently debated in Congress could be redirected, especially those related to education.”

Alfonso Mohor, a spokesperson for the Confech, said the students planned to present a series of points that they felt were “dismissed” by the government. “Today we are here in order to demand that a few minimal points would be reintroduced in the final debate of the bill on higher education.”

Rising education costs in Chile have cut many students out, leaving countless others with crippling debts. Meanwhile, private companies in the education sector continue to make large profits and many public institutions have closed down or undergone mergers.

On Sunday, billionaire and former President Sebastian Piñera won the presidential relections run-off against the center-left candidate Alejandro Guillier who had promised a pro-social welfare course.

While neither candidate had mounted a challenge against Chile's free-market liberal model, Piñera ran on a conservative platform promising lower taxes to turbocharge corporate profits, while Guillier stuck by the incumbent government's overhaul of education, taxes and labor, policies inherited from outgoing President Michelle Bachelet.

Piñera, a Harvard-trained economist who made his fortune introducing credit cards to Chile in the 1980s, said he would create a public pension fund to compete with Chile's much-criticized private pension funds, and expand free education.

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