The New Public Education (NEP) is the public education system created in 2017 and that transfers to the State the function of educating Chilean schoolchildren. Thus, the municipalities, which until now functioned as supporters, must transfer their educational services, which will be administered by 70 Local Education Services (SLEP) throughout Chile.
Each SLEP groups by territories a certain number of communes and although the original schedule has suffered delays (and will continue to suffer at the request of various actors), up to here 11 services have already been created, with 43 municipalities transferred.
In order to evaluate how this process has been, the Educational Leadership Program and the Faculty of Education of the U. Diego Portales conducted a survey of 260 directors of educational establishments who are already from a SLEP, which represents 34.9% of the NEP.
The study collected information on the daily experience of educational leadership and established a list of situations defined as “contingencies”, from which the directors determined the frequency (daily to never) of them in 2022. In this sense, the contingency that managers most often face is solve problems related to the management of the entry or exit of students from the establishment (28.1%). On the other side, the less frequent contingency is manage issues related to student or teacher mobilizations (6.5% daily and 52.7% never).
In line with the above, the study asked how educational leaders use their time, who identified that the tasks that on average require the most dedication in a week are: attention to students to solve different situations (13%), Care for parents and parents (10.8%) and respond to tasks and administrative demands of the holder, Mineduc and/or Superintendence of Education (9.1%).
In addition, the survey inquired into the perception of well-being of the directors, who, in general, have a positive perception.va. For example: 92% state that they strongly agree or agree that their establishment is a good place to work and the 94% would recommend your establishment to families who are looking for an educational center.
Of course, the other side of this is the look at some working conditions: the 84% considers (strongly agree and agree) that it is difficult to take a day off or ask for leave, the 74%, that the pace of your work is too fast; the 65%, that he never has enough time to finish his work; less than half -45%- agree or strongly agree that they have the appropriate resources to do their job, and just the 26% He says that he has enough time to observe the teaching work.
The survey also addressed principals’ perception of their experience as part of the NEP.
And it is that, as seen in the image, although the definitions are mostly positive, there are also negative ones, where the most present concept is the lack of resourcesa problem that coexists with concepts such as inefficiency Y bureaucratization.
“Put into perspective, these negative definitions of the NEP –although they are in the minority with respect to the rather positive view– are consistent with the main concerns of the directors”, the study indicates.
Respondents also expressed their opinion on the implementation of the new system. Most of the directors (57%) believe that the NEP has already “significantly impacted” their work, as well as having an impact on the work of the establishment (48.9%). Likewise, 45.8% agree that “the NEP has resulted in better management work in my establishment”, and 41.5% consider that “the NEP has translated into a better pedagogical work in my establishment”.
The survey consulted how much some specific aspects of the school reality have changed in the establishments run by the directors. Here are positive and negative results. In this last order, more than 70% consider that administrative work has increased; 61%, that the level of stress as director has increased, and 57%, that the availability of material and financial resources for their establishment has decreased.
“The results of our study show that the NEP has several challenges and pending, but also that significant progress has been made that they are positively affecting work inside the establishments, despite the short time that this reform has been in place and that its implementation has been crossed by the pandemic crisis”, he believes Gonzalo MunozUDP academic and co-author of the study.
In that line, Jaime Seesdirector of Public Education, says that the results “they are encouraging”, since the directors conceive this reform “as a contribution to social justice”. And he adds: “This indicates an advance in the understanding of the purpose and relevance of the NEP, with a great transforming role that invites us to think about education in a different way.”
Likewise, he believes that the challenges that they currently have as the Directorate of Public Education “They have to do with the complexities that we have detected in the implementation of the first SLEPs”before adding that “With a longer implementation time, thanks to the Miscellaneous Law and the project that modifies the law, we will have the opportunity to advance in an adequate installation that allows us to ensure the delivery of the educational service and focus on improvement.”
The survey was carried out between May and June of this year, at the end of the first semester of absolute attendance after two years of virtuality due to the pandemic. “This study has investigated first of all the daily experience of directors, directors and teachers in charge of the NEP. For this, the survey has consulted about what their main concerns are, within which We have sought to know with special attention the perception of the consequences of the pandemic and the suspension of classes”.
Thus it was that the three main concerns of the directors were addressed. They pointed out that the main one is the lack of resources for the management of the establishment (37.3%), followed by the increase in the number of students with emotional problems (28.1%), the administrative work overload (27.3%) -especially in basic schools and pre-school education establishments-, the registration of the establishment (23.9%), and the academic results of the same (23.1%). In ninth order appears the “student absenteeism” (17.3%), one of the focuses of concern in education in general today.
“The sum of the transfer to the NEP and the pandemic seems to have affected what directors today perceive as their central concern,” the filmmakers analyze.
Finally, regarding the consequences associated with Covid, where the principals agree the most is on “the significant delay in student learning achievement” (93%), “the worsening of the socio-emotional and mental health situation of students” ( 86%) and “the widening of learning gaps within the establishment” (82%).
The glass half full? There is a high level of agreement on learning how to manage the crisis: the directors consider that there is now a greater prioritization of the well-being and socio-emotional learning of the students (89%), they believe that in their establishments there is greater trust between the different levels (88%) and feel more prepared to face other crises in the future (87%).
“Policies should be sensitive to the vision that school leaders capture in this survey,” says Jose Weinstein, director of the Educational Leadership Program, authors of the survey. This implies, he assures, “strongly prioritizing actions aimed at reactivating learning and facing the socio-emotional consequences of the pandemic in students and teachers, also providing the management function with the necessary support to solve the problems derived from this crisis”.