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CHILE: Educational progress under Allende

Carmen Negrín says: "The "data" sent by Christopher Jones are just a propaganda political statement, not real statistics, comparing comparable figures. Here are some other figures in the field of education, which show that there was certainly no miracle in education under pinochet. Similar information could be given on health or other fields. These figures have to be read keeping in mind the population growth. First of all there were educational reforms in Chile in 1927-28; in 1945; in 1960; in 1965. So there is nothing memorable about having one more reform in education. In fact, one of the first things that President Patricio Alwyn did, was to reform the educational system established by Pinochet, which was not improved by all the legislative enactments and presidential decrees during his last months in power. All the measures taken under the military regime aimed at maintaining control over the curricula, personnel and school management, and to adapt the system to an economy run according to neo-liberal principles.

[RH: Here is the presidential succession: Salvador Allende 1970-1973, Augusto Pinochet 1973-1990, Patricio Aylwin 1990-1994. Carmen is stressing the progress in education under Allende, from 1970 to 1973]

From 1964 to 1970, basic education went from 1,4MM to 2MM
From 1970 to 1973, basic education went from 2 MM to 2,4MM
secondary education went from 300,000 to 500,000
higher education went from 77,000 to 140,000

From 1964 to 1973, basic education went up: 70%
secondary education went up: 66%
higher education went up: 200%

These figures come from a publication entitled: Doctrinas y póliticas, by Tomás Mc Hale, Educación universitaria; Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias y Educación de Chile, 1989. In this same publication, Gonzalo Vial Correa writes that (during the Pinochet period), "quantity has been more importance than quality" and that "quality was inacceptable". Talking about the quality: only 22% of those who had access to education, reached college and of those, only 2,5% obtained a degree. In the same publication, Hernán Larraín mentions the financial deficit of the educational system: in spite of a 7,2% growth (and afer the decentralization process to the municipalities), the deficit in 1982 is of 450MM pesos, in 1984 it is of 1,143MM, in 1985 of 1,705MM. The conclusion was that the deficit was due to an excess of teachers (already 1 for 30 students), so they were reduced to 1 to 45, and funds were reduced until totally cut in 1988. The few subventions given from then on, were given to pay teachers to leave.

From documents from the UNESCO Santiago: In 2000, the total rate of "absolute illiteracy" in Latin America and Caribbean was reduced by 10.9% (out of which 50% over age 40)

In 1985, Chile went from 7,8 to 4,9% illiterates in 2000
Cuba went from 7,6 to 4,4
Mexico went from 15,3 to 10,5

Links are to be made between the quality of the education and the socio-economic level.

In Chile, in 1980: preschool education was 12%
in 1991: preschool education was 18% (only 6% difference in 11 years!), this does not account for those who repeat the school year.

In 1982: there were 8,9% illiterates (681,039 ), and 6,7% in 1990

In 1991, only 4,9% of those children requiring special education had access to it.

From a Chilean government report produced for an international conference of education in Geneva, in 1981:
1974: 2,403,248 followed basic education
1980: 2,320,408 followed basic education
1974: 346,823 followed secondary education (humanities and sciences)
1980: 440,300 followed secondary education (humanities and sciences)
1974: 185,429 followed secondary education (technical education)
1980: 219,217 followed secondary education (technical education)

When comparing these figures to the achievements of the short Allende period, one has to keep in mind the "obstacles" created by the right wing, among them the strikes of truck drivers financed by ITT, etc.

Regarding housing, it should be noted that an "unidad de vivienda" means 5 square metres, and everyone has access to them, including the rich, thus 309.000 subsidies in 18 years doesn't mean much, specially when you consider that the population increase was quite high.

Regarding the new constitution, it was first violated then tailor-made by Pinochet, with Senators for life. Before the "regions" there were the "provinces", What was the major benefit? it can be noted that this new structure was in line with World Bank and International Development Bank recommendations. The New Congress in Valparaiso replaced the old one that Pinochet closed in Santiago; the Chiolean Sea Plande Chile and the peace treaty with Argentina- were both being negociated well before Pinochet, etc, etc...

The point is that whatever figures one gives, it all boils down to a political and ethical choice of loving or not dictators and the killing that comes with them!"

Ronald Hilton - 8/3/03