Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Blackboard battle

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on December 9, 2010

by The Economist, December 9th, 2010.

An ambitious attempt to get incentives right in the classroom.

The battle to achieve economic development will “be won or lost in the classroom,” declares Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera. To try to secure victory he has begun what he called Chile’s “most ambitious educational reform since the 1960s”. The first part of the reform, launched last month, deals with schooling; next year the education minister, Joaquín Lavín, hopes to start unveiling other measures for preschool, technical and higher education.

Mr Piñera took office in March after two decades of centre-left rule. His centre-right alliance claims that despite a big rise since the mid-1990s in the proportion of young people at secondary school and university, standards have not improved. That is not borne out by the PISA results: Chile’s average scores have risen steadily since 2000.

But as elsewhere in Latin America, Chilean schools tend to lock in socioeconomic inequalities rather than help poor pupils overcome their disadvantages. In the latest national tests the maths scores of 4th-year primary pupils from the richest fifth of the population were already about 35% better than those of the poorest fifth.

Money is one problem. Chile has a voucher system, in which the government pays money to the school of the parents’ choice. But funding per pupil received by state schools is about $100 a month—a tenth or less of the fees charged by private schools catering to the rich. (continue reading… )

 

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