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Chilean President: Free Education Will Make Country ‘More Just’

By on December 28, 2015

SAN JUAN – Chile’s president, Michelle Bachelet, said free college education and other reforms promoted by her administration will make Chile “a more just and supportive country for everyone.”

During her speech at the presidential La Moneda Palace, where she received a group of students who obtained the highest scores in college admission tests, Bachelet said education must become “a social asset” and called for high-quality education because it is her belief that “free and bad doesn’t serve anyone.”

“We don’t want a single youth to lose the chance to study because [his or her] family doesn’t have money,” the Chilean president said.

Bachelet recalled that offering free education three years ago was impossible. Nevertheless, in 2016 thousands of students will have the chance to obtain a free education.

Bachelet’s remarks came after she highlighted Thursday the importance of passing the Free Education Act and admitting it was not an easy process. The $765 million plan was included in the country’s 2016 budget.

The president’s intention is for every high school student to benefit from the law up until 2020.

On Wednesday, Chile’s Congress authorized the aid to some 178,000 low-income college students. Chile’s Constitutional Court had blocked parts of the measure after considering some elements unconstitutional, ruling that provisions such as having to enroll in specific schools to qualify were discriminatory.

The bill was one of the student movement’s principal demands and a central point in the administration’s reform for free, public and quality education.

In October, as part of a nationwide protest, 30,000 demonstrators gathered in Chile’s capital city, Santiago, to repudiate paid education and the government’s educational policies.

By Juan Hernández

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