SANTIAGO – Chilean students took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against the educational reform being pushed by the government and to demand the resignation of the education minister.
The march in Santiago, which did not have a permit, led to clashes between police and hooded militants.
“It cannot be that the minister is not clear on how this reform is going to be financed. She didn’t understand the demands of the student movement. The only thing she’s done has been to reach an agreement with the businessmen,” the head of the Coordinating Assembly of High School Students, Diego Arraño, told reporters.
The protest, called by the Chilean Students Confederation, began on Tuesday at different spots in the capital and was also staged in the cities of Valparaiso, Temuco, Valdivia and Concepcion.
In the clashes between students and riot police a cameraman with state-owned TVN television was arrested along with an undetermined number of high school and university students.
The demonstration was staged after the higher education reform bill was sent to Congress, with procedures to debate and approve it beginning in the lower house amid a shower of criticism by students, university presidents and various political sectors.
Tuesday’s mobilization was the latest action by students in rejection of the form and some of the content of the education overhaul bill promoted by President Michelle Bachelet’s administration.
Young activists say the plan doesn’t do enough to reform an educational system still marked by the legacy of the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, which encouraged the proliferation of for-profit schools and starved public education of resources.