(4) Equity Impacts by Chilean Student Activists on Higher Education in Chile

Research Question: To what extent did Chilean Student Activism among the movements in 2006 & 2011 further social equity in Chilean Higher Education?

Thesis Moment: According to experts at the OECD, social inequality is widespread throughout Chile (GINI Index > 0.5). A “social imaginary” exists in the sense that while education is perceived as the means to a better life and a more equitable society, the current neoliberal education system doesn’t seem to change student’s economic situations – instead, it seems that the current system continues current inequalities. Neoliberal education derives itself from a market based approach to education – by using a voucher system to pay for public, private, etc. schools, it was thought that through competition between schools for students/voucher money, schools would have to improve. It’s a more laissez-faire approach to education. While it did create more access to schools – higher education in particular – it didn’t necessarily create the equity that was desired. So protests occurred in 2006 and 2011 to combat inequalities. I am going to show that, while protests called for greater reform, their short term effect has only been moderately successful – and we can judge this by the current state today.

Road Mapping:

I have to have some basis for understanding previous inequalities that happen pre-2006 – in this, I will establish a baseline of what the government has tried to do to combat inequality – I will use this as a context for a counterargument to the extent of protestors as the only agents of change – how government willingness to change limits the extent of protestors. I will also use this for a persuasive counterargument to their counterargument, saying something along the lines of how increasing access != greater equity for all. I think it would be wise to bring up something regarding protestors’ perception of the lack of action on the behalf of the government as cause for protest.

Further – I will need to argue how 2006’s protests didn’t do that much for higher education – besides the elimination of the PSU, and some transportation tickets… but that it set the stage for the 2011 protests, that focused more on higher ed. Though I can say something nuanced about how 2006 was a high schooler’s revolt – and how those high schoolers became uni students.

2011 – I need to contextualize the movement – what people were asking for – speak about student loans, tuition costs, first generation students, for-profit colleges, etc… Speak about how not all goals were met through this protest. But then maybe I can argue that in subsequent protests (i.e. not those in 2006, 2011), activists then achieved what they wanted – which allows me to suggest that 2006 and 2011 didn’t do all that much to help higher education equity. However, as a broader view, it was a significant part of the social consciousness, and that is something that must be considered.

I need to analyze post-2011 social conditions in Chile – how some new, wonderful things may or may not have resulted from those specific protests… just because new legislation came out recently doesn’t entirely mean the 2006, 2011 protests directly affected its creation. That is a nuance that I want to argue.

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