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News :: International : Social Welfare
Chile's Student Strikes
05 Jun 2006
High school and university student lock-ins and strikes continue throughout Chile after 4 hours of unsuccessful negations between student leaders and the Ministry of Education on Friday.
High school and university student lock-ins and strikes continue throughout Chile after 4 hours of unsuccessful negations between student leaders and the Ministry of Education on Friday. Student's rejection of the government's USD $200 million dollar offer that would give free student passes to 290 million students, provide 200,000 more students with free meals in school, grant 125,000 free access to the university entrance exam, signals both the strength of the movement and carves it a new course. Indy Media of Chile reports, "Now it's not about the free school passes and entrance exams, now it's about the complete restructuring of education."

Students claim that the government's offer does not address the root of problems in Chilean education, including a law that privatizes schools that has been in place since 1989, the last year of the dictatorship in Chile. While the government has offered to for a committed that will discuss how to change the law, called LOCE, among student's new demands is the integration of a student body in the commission that will head that reform.

With 800,000 students on strike and 46.7% of schools in the country student-occupied, the movement has more leverage than any that Chile has seen since the protests that ended Pinochet's rule in the late 80's. Students sit tight keeping vigilance over their schools, taking turns at the gate or cooking meals in their cafeterias, preparing for Monday's nation wide general strike that will manifest in marches throughout the country.

In Santiago, students and protestors continue to be confronted by police brutality despite President Bachelet's dismissal of the chief of police who warranted the violence that resulted from marches on Tuesday. 730 students were arrested last week and 5 people were seriously injured. In both Santiago and Valparaíso, bands of neo-Nazis have threaten attacks and attempted to enter schools occupied by students. University students are organizing to protect students in occupied schools from any possible attacks at night. The vast majority of universities in Santiago and Valparaíso are also student-occupied or on strike in support of secondary school student's demands.

Youth throughout the country continue to occupy their schools in a peaceful and organized manner and will resume negotiations with the government following Monday's strike. Among their new demands is free public transportation for the poorest fifth of Chilean students, 290,000 students in total. Universidad del Mar student Iván Lara comments that no matter the results of negotiations, "what's most impressive is that youth are participating in the creation of a new system of direct democracy."
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Re: Chile's Student Strikes
06 Jun 2006
this is pretty inpirational. How can students around here learn to grow united and vocal to assert their voice and take control of their education?