The Battle of Chile – CONFECH-Chile representative in Australia

Welcoming to Australia, Tuesday April 3rd, 2012, 7pm Trades Hall Basement (corner of Lygon and Victoria Streets in Carlton South)

Saturday April 7, 2pm, Marxist conference, Melbourne University – Melbourne

Wednesday April 11, 6:30 pm to start at 7pm, OPEN FORUM – The Battle of Chile for public and quality education and its relevance to Australia, Including last updates on Aysen Struggles, at LHMU(Miscellaneous workers Union) ground floor meeting room, 117-131 Capel St. North-Melbourne.

On Sydney and Brisbane, details soon

More info call 0425 539 149 or write to lasnet

Recaredo Galvez from the Chilean National Students Confederation (CONFECH) and President of the Student Federation of Concepcion (FEC) – Chile.

He will share the experiences gained by the Chilean student movement in their struggle for free and quality education. A movement that has triggered other social and political sectors of Chilean society including mining workers, rural villages and indigenous people among others. Demanding for equal rights and questioning the very foundations of the neoliberal system.

The demand that has, throughout 2011 and now into 2012, mobilised thousands upon thousands of students across Chile to take to the streets and occupy their schools and universities has been �for a free and quality education�. And it is this demand which really encapsulates the problems with Chile�s education system. Chile�s public education system is chronically underfunded � as a percentage of GDP, Chile spends the least amount on education of any OECD member State.

Moreover, localised control of education has led to massive discrepancies in facilities and educational outcomes between wealthy and poor areas. Thus, with the benefits of relatively good secondary education, wealthy students are better positioned to fill the very limited positions available in the public universities.

The majority of students, predominantly poor, must therefore seek tertiary education in the number of privately owned, for profit universities and institutions. With tuition fees at these private institutions being incredibly expensive, most students are forced into taking out student loans with private banks (with the State as guarantor) at high interest rates. Thus most Chilean students are confronted with the reality of poor education at a ridiculously high price.

In a broader context, education is but one sector that was restructured according to the market-orientated neoliberal policies imposed by the Pinochet military dictatorship. Even following the end of the regime in 1990, the Chilean constitution, and its neoliberal economic model, which the dictatorship brought into being remains intact. The Chilean student movement is an expression of a wider social unrest about the structurally imposed inequalities inherent in this model, the so-called �economic miracle� of today�s Chilean society.

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