Education: A pending task

“Without leaving aside the dreams and ideals in education, our country will have to advance towards a broad program of collaborative pedagogical leveling and acceleration for each of the levels of the school system in the post-pandemic period, including previous challenges”, as stated by the historian and professor Luis Igor Antías, member of a renowned Historical Research Institute of the capital and author of “Chilean Education of the XXI century: “End to social segmentation and openness to social inclusion””, gives us an opinion regarding education Chilean.

The historian comments that at the end of the school year, the different schools carry out their evaluations, as well as the various educational actors. “The degree of sustainable development of a society depends, to a great extent, on its educational system. We know that we are not doing so well in this matter. The various national and international measurements of recent years have shown the panorama of crisis that we have been experiencing for a long time, marked by a short-term political conception that does little to help a true promotion of science and technology, without a doubt, in education there are pending tasks ”, he manifests.

An educational catastrophe

Today students do not understand what they read, there are shortcomings in basic operations, deficient study habits and socio-emotional skills, there is an increase in the number of schoolchildren who dropped out of the school system, the authorities report chronic school absenteeism, high numbers of absenteeism and teacher medical licenses, these are the consequences of the pandemic in Chilean education. According to UNESCO data, our country is among the 20 countries in the world that kept educational establishments closed for the longest time during the pandemic. “During 2021, most of the municipal establishments remained closed due to political decisions by the mayors or unions, decisions that were not supported by scientific evidence, while paid private schools returned to face-to-face education just like in the rest of the world. Social fear prevailed”, says the historian.

Only at the end of this school year did educational research report the Chilean educational catastrophe or earthquake, which the authorities, the academic world and educational institutions and the press have echoed.

Facing the catastrophe

Luis Igor says that as pedagogues well know, it is key to evaluate each student to provide them with comprehensive support, although the Ministry of Education has promoted actions, these do not guarantee recovery. This is where the state educational policy must guarantee each educational community, and especially teachers, training and educational resources to accompany them not only academically, but also in their mental health. On Tuesday, December 20, 2022, the Deputies approved and dispatched the law of the miscellaneous project presented by the Ministry of Education, for public education and the teaching world, extending the term of transfer of establishments to six new Local Education Services by one year. Public created in 2022; regularizing payments of the retirement incentive bonus pending since 2018; facilitating the payment of retained pension debts; and extending the term of accreditation of the State CFTs. However, “the learning catastrophe is not addressed in its entirety for each of the educational levels”, is the criticism, says Professor Igor, since these are public policies defined since before the pandemic and their implementation is behind schedule.

However, the implementation of 100 re-entry classrooms; the expansion of the tutoring program, the increase in the coverage of the Conectividad 2030 program; and the expansion in 40 new communes of the School Coexistence Territorial Program, among others, focuses on a part of the school system. “Without a doubt, the announcement of allocating $250 billion for the Educational Reactivation Plan with the 2023 budget is a significant advance, but insufficient,” argues the historian. The figures are key,” a study by the University of Chile indicates that 7 out of 10 directors perceive a deterioration in emotional well-being in high school students, and the Ministry of Education indicates that complaints of abuse increased by 43% physical and psychological among students with respect to the two previous years”.

the pending task

UNESCO – points out Luis Igor – states that to recover learning it is key to strengthen initiatives such as the Pedagogical Leveling and Acceleration Program, ensuring the budget, expanding its offer and improving the capacities of teachers. Although education is the responsibility of the state, the concurrence of the initiative and private resources is also important.

According to the 2023 Budget Law, 0.005% of GDP would be allocated to public establishments that serve 37% of the country’s schoolchildren to finance a Fund for Educational Reactivation. The United States and the United Kingdom will use 0.05% and 0.1% of their GDP, respectively. If we compare these percentages, the United Kingdom will allocate 33 times more resources and the United States 167 times more for the recovery of learning than those destined in Chile. They are $9,567 million, that is, we have $8,400 annually per student. “Clearly, says Luis Igor, this is insufficient, despite the initiative that the government has presented as a Comprehensive Educational Reactivation Policy. This is projected as a long-term process, which is organized into three major interconnected phases, whose horizon is educational transformation, which begins with actions that seek to install replicable and scalable models and capacities over time. There is a plan with a short-term response, with a duration of 2 years and whose focus is to strengthen school communities; another with an intermediate phase, of projection of systemic and medium-term transformations, which imply a greater development of the components of the Policy. Development will begin in 2023, overlaps with the initial phase, and will continue until at least 2025. Consolidation of structural transformations, which begins in 2025, addressing planning in greater detail, with a projection of at least 8 years . This is what the minister has proposed, it is challenging, it must have broad collaborative support”.

It is imperative to allocate free hours to language or mathematics, something that educational regulations do not allow. Maintaining curricular prioritization until 2025 seems to be a mistake and one that the ministry will have to correct, since increasing class hours for some subjects is essential. This is how some countries have understood it, opening schools on Saturday mornings, others extending the school day, others have concentrated their efforts on children who are furthest behind, etc.

In post-pandemic there is an economic, social and political change that affects educational communities. On the other hand, research from university centers shows that it is urgent to “generate strategies for the prevention and treatment of emotional and behavioral difficulties, which consider the relationship between the mental health conditions of adults and their sons and daughters who go to the system school”. Today there are more problems in relation to attention difficulties and anxious-depressive type, isolation, social and thought problems in students, this leads to school conflicts and low levels of learning.

“These children and young people, with their dreams and desires, but also with their shortcomings and possible resentments, will be the ones who will work in our organizations for the next decade. In addition to the economic reactivation and the technological and industrial reinvention processes, a great cultural change must come for our country from all social spheres, both public and private. The resources it has and that make everyone proud will be of no use to the country if it is not strengthened and capitalized with intelligence, ethics and responsibility. As a society there is much to improve, and the best thing is to evaluate history, to become aware of the dynamics that we must promote and which ones we must do everything possible to stop. Our national history tells us that the greatest and best advances in education have been achieved when the public and private world, beyond ideological divergences, have dialogued, deliberated and acted collaboratively. Nonconformity that results from deep social crises has historically been explained by a lack of education. Confucius already taught it more than 2,500 years ago: “Education generates confidence. Trust breeds hope. Hope generates peace”, concludes the historian.

Education: A pending task – Linares Online