|Huck/Konopacki Labor Cartoons|
Tens of thousands of students in Chile have been protesting across the country for the past few weeks demanding comprehensive educational reforms and an end to the privatization of education. High school students have been hunger striking in Antofagasta and Santiago, Democracy Now reported yesterday. Police have responded to street demonstrations with water cannons and tear gas, while students have set fire to barricades, according to the SF Chronicle.
Since the restoration of democracy in Chile, education has been made universal for elementary and secondary school, while 40% of college-age Chileans now attend university. However, according to political scientist Patricio Navio, (quoted by Democracy Now), approximately half of the elementary and secondary students attend private voucher schools. The system was created under Pinochet, and was influenced by the Chicago School economics of Milton Friedman, who trained the Chilean “Chicago Boys.” The private schools, even with vouchers, require payments from the parents, creating a growing gap in the quality of education available in Chile.