A few weeks ago, in El Mercurio, through a letter written by Luis Cañas, President of the Coordinator of Subsidized Private Schools, some of the most critical points in the discussion on public education, the right to education and freedom of education were highlighted. developed in the Constitutional Convention.
In this column, we address central aspects of this letter and that, from our perspective, are central to understand and explain certain conceptions about the public-private relationship in Education under the protection of the current Constitution. We are encouraged by the idea of deepening the approaches exposed in the Popular Initiative presented by the articulation of educational social organizations called: For the right to education, building a Plurinational system of state-community Public Education which, ultimately, postulates the redefinition of the preferential relationship of the State with Public Education, to advance its growth and democratization and to support a community and multinational educational project.
Mr. Cañas’ letter raises three ideas that we believe should be reviewed in the framework of the Convention’s debate, so as not to fall into the reproduction, in the new Constitution, of the action frameworks provided by the 1980 Constitution that have been designed an unequal and segregated model.
First of all, Who builds the Educational Project of an educational establishment? In the current school system, the figure of the supporter, both public and private, has the authorship of the Educational Project of a school establishment. This responsibility, from the logic of the market, is understood under the idea that the supporter – “educational manager” used by Luis Cañas in his letter – offers an educational conception that will be selected by those who agree with it, therefore, if it is not selected , ceases to be viable within the system. The elaboration of an Educational Project from a privatizing logic ignores the general interest and the urgent common needs that we have as a society, a perspective that must be overcome by a conception that includes the elaboration of Educational Projects from a democratic-participatory conception of the communities, which develop collectively and with significant territorial roots. We are talking about a new constitutional regulatory framework, where the territories are not understood only as administrative units, but as living spaces, with their own histories, with development paths, with needs and demands. Advancing in this process requires the generation of a national, regional and local Educational Project, leaving behind the fragmentation and unlocking the privatizing idea and essence of exclusive authorship of the holder. We must be able to overcome the idea of building a school as the act of offering within an educational market.
Secondly, What is the relationship that the State should have with public establishments? One of the most complex derivatives of the constitutional definitions will be the form(s) of financing the national education system. The equal financing of public and private establishments is one of the key premises to be debated if we want to build a Constitution that guarantees the Right to Education as a public and collective good. It will be necessary for the State to define a priority and preferential financing, and not for this discriminatory, for the establishments that are its property and that will be part of a Plurinational System of Public Education. Free educational services and compliance with national educational legislation are not sufficient requirements to sustain equal public-private treatment. The Plurinational State, based on its Educational and Pedagogical Project, must first generate a system that ensures its leading role within the national school system. Education cannot be reduced to the sum of particular projects, but must always be associated with an idea of human being, society and country, defined democratically and collectively, while the State needs to have the training tools to ensure and support this principle. . The significance of this point involves understanding the historical meaning of the change. The participation of individuals in the development of education in Chile, has a trajectory that is not consistent with the process initiated from the 1980 Constitution imposed during the civic-military dictatorship. It is necessary to move forward so that the constitutional definitions allow the historical tradition of the Chilean educational system to be retaken, rescuing the approach of freedom of education within the framework of the irreplaceable responsibility of the State.
Finally, What is the visible and responsible face in a Public School System? According to the interpretation of Luis Cañas, the current regulations allow defining in the holder a “visible face”, responsible for what happens in a school establishment, a situation that becomes diffuse in the case of public schools. This conception seeks to identify an advantage in the form of administration of the subsidized private sector, reaffirming the definition of the educational act as individual initiative and responsibility, which must be overcome by a conception that understands the guarantee of the right to education as a construction and responsibility collective. In other words, it is necessary to overcome the idea that in Education -and globally in social rights-, there is a subject who is the owner of a “something” and that just by owning that “something”, he becomes responsible. of this one. Currently, we are in a process that requires socializing and democratizing the educational exercise to advance the historical demands of the movement for Education of the last decade. This implies assuming the educational act as a pedagogical, social and community task and not confine it to the act of private management in which it is installed today.
In the course of the process of defining constitutional norms, one of the issues that has brought together the largest number of initiatives in the Convention has been education. There have been nearly 40 initiatives, presented via popular initiative or conventional constituents, which must be reviewed by the Commission on Fundamental Rights, so that later, those that are approved, go to a general vote in plenary. The Fundamental Rights Commission has been one of those that has had to review a greater number of normative initiatives, the fact of specifically bringing together forty associated with Education shows its importance, the public interest and the complexity of this debate, and at the same time, of the tensions it provokes.
The historical moment that the Constitutional Convention accounts for, positions us in the development of a profound reflection on the review of the public-private relationship in education, which gives the necessary role to public education to advance in its growth and democratization and that supports a community and multinational educational project. In short, going beyond the administrative and financial problem, understanding that not only how best to manage the current national education system is defined, but also the way in which we are conceiving education for the country, the role of subjects and the communities in these processes as relevant actors in the educational discussion, educational principles and the full guarantee of our social rights. It has been long years in which the Social Movement has placed these issues on the table, so there is no room to remove them from the discussion or to partially assume them. Therein lies the challenge.
Support Team Popular Initiative of Standard “For the right to education, building a Plurinational system of state-community Public Education.”
Rodrigo Cornejo, University of Chile
Miguel Caro, Metropolitan University of Educational Sciences
Javier Insunza, History teacher
Loreto Munoz, U. Silva Henriquez
Leonora Reyes, University of Chile
The content poured into this opinion column is the exclusive responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the position of Diario y Radio Universidad de Chile.