BBSC Education In Chile


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La educación en Chile no responde a las expectativas.

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BBSC Education In Chile

  1. 1. La educación en Chile, no responde a las expectativas. Evidenciar las razones de este diagnóstico, es un desafío trascendente para nuestra sociedad, y por ello, el presente documento intenta entregar un aporte al debate. EDUCATION IN CHILE As Hayek has sustained, social phenomena are extremely complex. This complexity should make us cautious in most public policy objectives. However, in most cases the contrary occurs, especially in those areas in which empirical research and, therefore, an understanding of social phenomena, are severely limited. Ignorance seems at times to create an attitude of illuminism, instead of prudence. Therefore, certain policies are followed with exaggerated conviction although they have not been appropriately tested, or they require an institutional framework that is not in place when they are implemented. This approach is quite frequent in education. Although there is good research in this case1, overall, the research that has been done lacks enough strength to influence educational policy. Mainly because some studies contradict each other, or the quality of the data prevents any strong conclusions from being reached. Hence, there is no consolidation of widely shared empirical regularities like what occurs in other fields of social research or, even more frequently, in the field of natural sciences. Such scenario leaves in my opinion little room for centralized policies. If they are wrongly designed the costs for the whole educational system may be enormous. The decisions should be left to elementary and high schools or, in general, to local communities. Most of the knowledge required to generate an effective education is local in its origin. The evaluation of teachers is such a case.2 However, Chile recently took teacher evaluation outside the school's scope in what constitutes a clear example of the incorrect approach underlying the Chilean educational policy. In what follows I will suggest a very basic approach to Chilean educational policy that is usually forgotten: those ultimately responsible for improving the learning of students are the schools. Accordingly, schools must be held accountable for their results. For this to happen, an institutional framework that generates that accountability is required. The creation of such a framework is the main challenge for Chilean educational policy. Best Business Solutions Consulting BEST BUSINESS SOLUTIONS CONSULTING EDUCATION IN CHILE Las soluciones del futuro, ahora
  2. 2. INTHEPRESENT LEVELS OF EDUCATION The levels of education in Chile are: Pre-school: For children up to 5 years old, optional for 1 grade. Primary school: (Enseñanza básica) for children from 5-13 years old, divided into 8 grades. Secondary school: (Enseñanza media) for teenagers from 13-18 years old, divided into 4 grades. Secondary school is also divided into: o Scientific-humanities approach: From Tercero Medio (11th grade) in high school, students can choose a major in either science (math, physics, chemistry, biology), or humanities (literature, history, sociology), which means they will get more lessons in the area of their choice. o Technical-Professional education: Students receive 'extra' education in the so- called 'technical' areas, such as electricity, mechanics, metal assembly, etc. This second type of education is more typical of public schools (Liceos), to give students from poorer areas a chance to work right away after completion of highschool, as a way to fund a possible higher education career later. University: a system divided in public or 'state' universities and a private system. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY LEVELS According to the constitution, primary and secondary school are mandatory for all Chileans. The Chilean state provides an extensive system of education vouchers, that covers almost 90% students of primary and secondary education. Such extensive voucher system is based in a direct payment to the schools based on daily attendance; in practical terms, if the students moves to a different school, his attendance payments move too. Schools are either public (nearly all owned by the municipality in which the school is located) or private, which may receive government subsidies. BASIC The reform of 1965 established Basic Education as the initial cycle of schooling. Before that, by 1920, the Chilean legislation had established 4 years of minimum mandatory education. By 1929 the minimum had been increased to 6 years. Finally, in 1965 a compulsory Basic Level of 8 years was established, divided in 2 cycles and 8 grades, ideally designed for ages 6 to 13. Derechos Reservados 2
  3. 3. SECONDARY The Secondary School is divided between Scientific-Humanist (regular), Technical- Professional (vocational) and Artistic, always with a duration of 4 years. The first two years are the same for the three kinds of schooling, while third and fourth years are differentiated according to the orientation of the school. The schools offering Technical-Professional programs are denominated: Industrial Schools: electricity, mechanics, electronics, informatics, among others. Commercial Schools: management, accountant, secretary and similar. Technical Schools: fashion, culinary, nursery and the like. Polyvalent Schools: offering careers of more than one of those listed above. Compulsory only reached the 8 years of the Basic Cycle, but since May 7th of 2003, a constitutional reform under the government of the president Ricardo Lagos, established free and compulsory Secondary Education for all the inhabitants of Chile up to 18 years old, placing on the State the responsibility of ensuring access to it. This ensures thirteen years of compulsory schooling, which was an unprecedented milestone in Latin America that date. As of 2008, the LGE (Ley General de Educación), which is currently pending, provides and guarantees 14 years of free compulsory education. The coverage of the Chilean Educational System is practically universal, like in most highly developed countries, showing enrollment rates that represent that reality. Enrollment in Basic Education reaches 99.7% of children between 6 and 14 years, while the coverage of secondary education enrollment is 87.7% of adolescents between 15 and 18 years. EDUCATION COSTS Public schools and subsidized private schools with voluntary tuition may charge a fee for the admittance process, which is fixed by law. The fee's cost was CLP$3.500 in 2008 (less than US$7). The annual price of enrollment is zero for primary school and cannot be higher than CLP$3.500 for secondary school. A tuition fee may be charged only in secondary school, but it is completely voluntary for the parent. Subsidized private schools with mandatory tuition have the same admittance and annual enrollment costs as in public schools, but they are allowed to charge a mandatory monthly tuition which cannot be higher than 4 USE (Education Subsidy Unit). This was equal to CLP$60,748.86 in 2008 (about US$116). Private schools are free to set what they will charge, which may include, admittance, enrollment, tuition costs, as well as a fee for being selected into the school (paid once, and can be quite high in some exclusive schools) and a payment to the so-called Parent Center (Centro de Padres). There is a third type of public school, the so- called Delegated Administration schools, which are owned by the State but managed and financed by private corporations. These cannot charge for admittance and the annual enrollment cost is the same as in public schools. They are allowed to charge for tuition, but this is wholly voluntary for the parent. The cost is 1.5 UTM (Monthly Tax Unit) annually, which was CLP$451,824 (less than US$865) in 2008. There is a fourth type of public school, administered by the Ministry of Education and completely financed by the State. Currently, there is only one such school: Escuela Villa Las Estrellas in Antártica. 46922.html ADMISSION TO UNIVERSITY Students can choose between 25 state universities and over 50 private ones, which are increasingly growing in number. Derechos Reservados 3
  4. 4. There is one single and very transparent admission system to all state universities and to several of the oldest private universities, which integrate the so called Council of Rectors (Consejo de Rectores). The system, called PSU, an acronym for Universitary Selection Test (Prueba de Selección Universitaria), is very similar to the U.S. SAT Reasoning Test. The design and the correction of the test is performed by the University of Chile, while the system itself is managed by the Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación). The test consists in two mandatory exams, mathematics and language, plus several other specific exams, like chemistry, physics, biology, history, etc., depending on what career the student wishes to apply. The cumulative grade point average achieved during secondary school is also taken into account in the final admission score. Every university assigns different weightings to the results of the various exams. There is a big gap in PSU scores between poorer students, mostly coming from public schools, and more wealthy students, specially those coming from private schools, therefore, poorer students have much smaller chances to enter the most prestigious universities, which hold high entry scores. The most talented poor students, those who achieve high PSU scores, can obtain up to 100% of scholarship from the Government, plus, several universities have their own scholarship programmes to assist poorer students, though funds are insufficient. For students who obtained high enough scores to enter a public university or to an accredited private university, there is a system of government backed loans which is offered through several commercial banks, but the amount and terms of the credits not necessarily fit the needs of the students. According to media and official statistics, in 2006 a total 241,390 students took the PSU test. PROGRAM OVERVIEW In the Chile: Education and Social Change study abroad program, students examine the powerful relationship between education and social change and the ways in which educational politics, strategy, and pedagogy influence society in Chile and Argentina. Students engage in rigorous academic coursework and research on the educational systems in urban and rural areas in Chile, and observe first-hand the application of popular education as a tool for social change. The program offers students the opportunity to interact with prominent academics, policy makers, activists, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to gain a panoramic understanding of the forces affecting Chile educational policies. Students also observe the intercultural dynamics between the Chilean government and the Mapuche, the country's largest indigenous group, and participate in homestays with families in Santiago, the Mapuche region. Intensive Spanish language study and educational excursions throughout the semester improve students' communication and field study skills while also immersing them in the rich cultures of Chile. MOBILIZATION AND INNOVATION The program's base in Santiago, Chile, provides students with a dynamic social and political environment in which to study education and social change. Chile's capital, Santiago was the focal point of protests involving high school students seeking education reform in 2006. These protests, which mobilized nearly a million people, underscore the importance of education for the Chilean populace as well as the controversies surrounding education funding, content, and distribution. Chile has a long history of sustained governmental engagement in educational policymaking and implementation as well as innovation in educational approach and delivery, and these protests reflected the difficult transition from the educational mandates of a dictatorship to the progressive ideas available in a democracy. Within this socially active atmosphere, students interact with local schools, community organizations, and their homestay families to gain multiple perspectives on education and its impact on society. As part of Derechos Reservados 4
  5. 5. their field study, students participate in observation activities in a selection of schools around Santiago, thereby gaining first-hand insight on the workings of public, private, voucher, underprivileged, coed, and single sex schools. Students will also explore Chile's complex political history by conducting educational excursions to places such as the Parque por la Paz, which served as a secret detention center during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, which began in 1974 and lasted for almost 17 years. Students travel outside of Santiago and conduct field studies in Valparaiso and Temuco, Chile to compare regional and national differences in educational systems and community involvement with, and influence on, educational reform. A DEBATE ON THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION Chile has increased significantly its spending on education, going from 2.5% of GDP in 1990 to an estimated 4.4% this year. Figure 1 shows a possible relationship between spending and the quality of education. It suggests that the relationship between spending per student and academic performance is not unique. That figure presents two curves that relate spending to the quality of education. The curve marked A shows a high expected performance for each level of spending per student. The dotted curves represent the confidence intervals of that technology, leaving room for countries of similar educational technology to report differences in academic performance even though their levels of spending are very similar. Curve B, on the other hand, reflects a very low academic performance for each level of spending per student. There are huge differences in academic performance between both technologies for similar expenditures. The adoption of an "educational technology" such as the one described by curve B is particularly regrettable for a country. However significant the increases in spending may be, the effect on the academic performance of students is marginal. In this case, a change from technology B to technology A is more advantageous -rather than an increase in spending- because it raises the academic performance of students more. Evidence has been gathered that our academic performance lags behind tremendously. If Chile is on a technology such as B, this would explain why the results of the national evaluation tests (the Simce) have not undergone significant changes despite the heavy increases in funding. Of course, it is unreasonable to expect immediate change. Changes are rather the fruit of perseverance and educational efforts. But even so, there is no information to predict that such perseverance will result in significant progress over the coming years. There is a relatively high inertia in the performance of the country's schools, as suggested by Figure 2. In general, schools that earned goods results on the Simce 6 years ago did so again in 2002, while those that did poorly at that time did poorly again. Only a few schools managed to revert their "initial situation." Moreover, international comparisons suggest that Chile's performance is lower than what its per capita income or educational spending Derechos Reservados 5
  6. 6. Derechos Reservados 6 would allow (cumulative or contemporary), by magnitudes that run from 0.18 to 0.36 standard deviations in academic performance. Figure 3 reveals that weak academic performance is quite generalized in Chile. It is comparable to the performance in mathematics for countries with a lower per capita income, where there is less spending on education as well as high inequality (although certainly not as high as in Chile) for each percentile in the distribution of performance. This means that educational standards are low across the entire educational system. This must not lead us, however, to error. Lower income youths are more harmed by an education where there is less learning. Of the fourth grade students who are in the highest decile of academic performance, 27.3% come from paid private schools although they account for only 10% of enrollment. That proportion rises to 33.1% in 8th grade and to 44.3% by the junior year in high school. The "initial advantage" of students that go to private schools is clearly strengthened. Said crudely, the government- financed educational system destroys talents in children of lower socioeconomic levels, and efforts must be redoubled to avoid that situation. WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE? Since we have said that the main deficit of the Chilean educational system is its lack of quality, it is indispensable to advance in the development of an institutional framework that unequivocally ensures that such an objective gains force in the allocation of resources. In terms of Figure 1, this implies moving from trajectory B to A. What makes an educational system move to a higher curve? The truth is that there is no simple answer. As we said earlier, comparative research does not provide very conclusive answers. We know, however, that an educational system would be lame if the players (students, teachers and authorities, among others), felt no pressure to achieve a good academic performance. In order to achieve this, those schools must be held accountable to the community for the academic results of their students. Few structures are capable of meeting these requirements. State intervention in education must not limit the autonomy of educational establishments, nor alter their incentives to provide quality education. If this is accepted, educational programs directed by the Ministry of Education have no place. Schools must choose the combination of educational inputs most appropriate to their objectives and be accountable for their results. In this scheme of things, the job of the Ministry is to facilitate inputs and ensure that there is no rigidity preventing schools from choosing the combination of inputs they deem most suitable. This is far from what has occurred in Chile. The educational environment is not designed to make schools feel pressure to do well, and the educational authorities play an undeniable role of pedagogical managers where the focus is, moreover, basically on processes and very little on results. Progress in decentralizing the educational system, handing over government schools to municipalities and deregulating the supply of schools; and the change in the way that education is financed to a per-student subsidy
  7. 7. were all, at the time, changes in the right direction. However, among other design problems, no system was created that informed parents of how schools were performing. Only in 1995 was a reporting system implemented for the results of the Simce test. However, the information must be more precise, clear and hopefully provided directly to parents. The reports that many American schools are sending to families are a model to imitate. The financing system also has serious design problems, including the fact that the subsidy assumes that the cost of providing education is unrelated to the socioeconomic situation of students. In turn, the "municipalization" of education has not yielded the expected fruits. In part because of the lack of information about schooling performance, but also because in many municipalities, the levels of centralization existing when the schools were run by the government were replicated and even exacerbated. Many of the municipal schools therefore lacked a minimum of autonomy to implement educational projects. Also important is the fact that the quality of education is not necessarily one of the priorities of mayors. Moreover, students often change from one municipal school to another, so there is no impact on municipal finances. This dilutes the incentives to improve the management of municipal schools.Lastly, nearly 20% of the boroughs in the country have no private schools. Another 40% face a very limited competition from the private sector. The design problems affecting the educational system have been aggravated in recent years, instead of being corrected.10 Also of influence is a deeply rooted belief that teachers will be incapable of dealing with the current educational challenges. The Ministry acts as if they believe they would be a bottleneck impossible to overcome, which is why the Ministry has wanted to guide the educational process. But there is no evidence that this is truly so. For example, Figure 4 shows that there is a significant dispersion in the results of subsidized private schools and municipal schools in each of the vulnerability groups established by the Ministry of Education. It follows that there is no material justification for those ministerial apprehensions. It could be argued that the schools with good results keep only good students (which is what teachers usually argue), but there are no differences in the dispersion of results within good and bad performing schools, so there is no evidence in favor of such claim. It is the schools themselves that must deal with the challenges imposed by greater accountability for results. One of the greatest challenges in developing institutions that pressure schools to do well, is dealing with the teachers labor statute and the rigidities due to the municipalization of education. One possible road is to allow parents to "intervene" municipal schools where performance is weak. This intervention could occur, for example, whenever a municipal school obtains results below the national average or in the lower third of performance. Figure 4 Derechos Reservados 7
  8. 8. Derechos Reservados 8 The majority (or two-thirds of parents) must back that decision in order to make it a reality. Operationally, the management of the school would be left to parents. They can appoint a new principal. The administrative staff and teachers would lose some of the privileges conferred by the teachers labor statute, in particular tenure. In this scheme of things, the labor statute is a "benefit" that continues only if the results of the schools are good. Otherwise, the benefits are forfeited to the parents of the children attending those schools. CONCLUSIONS I have discussed a central issue in the development of Chilean education, but it is far from being the only one. Educational issues do not stop here. Yet I believe that if we do not take this fundamental step, dealing with many of those other issues will not yield the expected fruits. Schools more accountable for the academic results of their students are indispensable if one wants to create a virtuous educational dynamic. Of course, it also involves risks. Schools may displace students with low results in order to show quick progress, but there are ways to minimize these risks. Lastly, the potential benefits of a more accountable and transparent educational system are so significant that it is worth taking that risk no matter what. There are, of course, alternatives to explore and imagine, but the important thing is to start trying out alternatives right away that will help us effectively rise to a trajectory in which spending on education is more fruitful than what it has been thus far. REFERENCES Aedo, C. y C. Sapelli (2001), "El sistema de vouchers en educación: una revisión de la teoría y la evidencia empírica para Chile" Estudios Públicos, Otoño N° 82, pp. 35-82. Beyer, H. (2000), "Entre la autonomía y la intervención: las reformas de la educación en Chile" en Felipe Larraín y Rodrigo Vergara, eds., La Transformación Económica en Chile, Santiago: Centro de Estudios Públicos. Beyer, H. (2003), "La búsqueda de una educación de calidad", Estudios Públicos, por aparecer. Beyer, H., Eyzaguirre, B. y L. Fontaine (2001), "Reseña al libro La Reforma Educacional Chilena", Perspectivas en política, economía y gestión, Vol. 4 N° 2, pp. 289-314. Eyzaguirre, B. y C. Le Foulon (2001), "La calidad de la educación chilena en cifras", Estudios Públicos, Primavera N° 84, pp. 85- 204. Heckman, J. y P. Carneiro (2003), "Human Capital Policy" National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper Series N&° 9495, febrero. * Centro de Estudios Públicos, Chile. Email: See, for example, the papers included in "La Economia de la Educación y el Sistema Educativo Chileno," Cuadernos de Economía, December 2002, Volume 39, No.118, edited by Claudio Sapelli. See, for example, Heckman and Carneiro (2003).