During the colonial period, Chilean teaching was handled by the church. The first general education was organized in the mid-19th century, built and organized by the Venezuelan writer and philologist Andrés Bello, rector of the University of Santiago. However, it was not until 1920 that basic education for the ages of 7–15 years became compulsory. Illiteracy is very low in Latin American conditions, below 6%. Writing and reading skills increased from 50% to 80% during 1920–50.
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In today’s Chile, education is conducted on four different levels. There are special boys ‘and girls’ schools as well as mixed classes. At all stages there are private schools besides state and municipal schools, and they are often the obvious choice for the upper and middle class. The quality differences between different schools are large.
The preschool, enseñanza parvularia, is a stage for both childcare and school preparation. The compulsory compulsory school, enseñanza primaria or básica, is eight years old, encompasses children aged 6-13 and is free of charge if run under public administration. Schooling is divided into two stages in four years, where the first is dedicated to training the children’s basic skills in different subjects, while the latter allows some specialization. In addition to the compulsory school, there is special education, enseñanza especial, for students with special needs. In practice, children often leave school to contribute to family support. High school, enseñanza secundaria or media has four-year theoretical lines with a humanistic or natural sciences orientation at educational institutions, and more professional lines in four to five years.
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The higher education, educación superior, is built around universities, Universidades, vocational institutes, Institutos Profesionales, and technical education centers, Centros de Formación Técnica. The universities have different educational lines (education for agronomist, architect, biochemist, civil engineer, business engineer, forest engineer, doctor, lawyer, dentist, psychologist, chemist, pharmacist and veterinarian), which lead to an academic degree. Of the universities is Universidad de Chile(in Santiago) largest (founded 1842). Other institutes and centers provide education for all kinds of professions and specialties in addition to the thirteen careers reserved for the universities. Admission to the universities (and some vocational institutes) requires both the completion of the continuing school and the student to pass the general and special entrance exams available for each education.
In January 2016, Parliament set up a commission to investigate the violence in Araucanía – the region where there is the most conflict over land between the Mapuche people and the authorities. However, it turned out that the Commission was only interested in violence perpetrated by mapuches. Not the violence security forces and others practiced against the Mapuche people. In September, Parliament took note of the Commission’s report. The security forces’ assault on the mapuche people continued.
The country’s tight abortion laws softened a bit in March when the Chamber of Deputies adopted an add, according to which abortion was legalized when it endangered the woman’s life, was caused by rape or fetal failure.
The country’s Service for Minors (Sename) became the center of a scandal in 2016 when it was revealed that 865 minors and 448 adults had died in the 2005-15 period while under the protection of the service.
In the aftermath of the student protests in 2011-13, the government tried to introduce free tuition, but most of the law package was overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2015 because it required students to study at certain schools and it found the court discriminatory. However, 200,000 of the poorest students received free tuition. It was not until January 2018 that a new Education Act was implemented that made tuition free for the 60% poorest in the country.
In December 2017, presidential and parliamentary elections were held. The first round of the presidential election was won by right-wing Sebastián Piñera with 36.6% of the vote against 22.7% for Socialist Alejandro Guillier. In the second round, Piñera got 54.6% versus 45.4% for Guillier. The right wing overall in Chile Vamos rose slightly to 38.7%, gaining 72 out of Parliament’s 155 deputies. They were thus the largest bloc, but did not have an absolute majority. Former President, Bachelor’s coalition Nueva Mayoria, in turn, declined 7.2% to 24.1% of the vote. The new left-wing coalition Frente Amplio formed in 2017 went up 8.6% to 16.5%. A major reason for the slippage to the right was the low popularity of the Bachelor.
Eight retired officers were sentenced in July 2018 to every 15 years in prison for the murder of singer Victor Jara in September 1973. A ninth officer was given 5 years in prison for his participation in the darkening of the murder. In 2016, a Florida, U.S. District Court Judge Lieutenant Pedro Barrientos pleaded guilty to torture and murder of Jara and sentenced him to pay $ 28 million. US $ in compensation to Jara’s family. Two years later, the United States authorities considered whether the killer should be extradited to Chile. (Victor Jara murder: ex-military officers sentenced in Chile for 1973 death, Guardian 3/7 2018)