The study was led by Vernor Muñoz, former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (2004-2010) and member of the Deliberative Council of the Civil Society’s Regional Fund for Education. A team from the Ministry of Education in Chile, and other relevant actors also participated in the preparation of the document.
The work focused on reviewing the conceptual and normative framework of the right to education, and analysed the current situation from the perspective of its main elements: availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability. These are elements that define the obligations of the State with regard to the right to education, and its application. The study shows that the objectives of education determine institutional priorities, including curricular development on the one hand and, on the other, the nature and scope of education management which requires adequate funding to progressively advance towards guaranteed free education for all.
“The challenges that the Chilean educational system faces are the result of a long historical process under several different governments. For this reason, the needed changes have to be agreed on and formulated by all social actors, and should transcend political agendas, so as to construct a long-term national vision and project, in which positive social dialogue will ensure that the necessary solutions are reached”, said Jorge Sequeira, Director of OREALC/UNESOC Santiago.
Vernor Muñoz, author of the study, added that “although the right to education is incorporated in the constitutions of most countries, it has different interpretations. In Uruguay, it has the sense of a public utility; in Argentina it is oriented more to protection and guarantees. In Chile, it is closer to the promotion of key actors linked to the freedom of education. This proves the need to build a common language regarding the right to education”.
In the case of Chile, and considering that the country has already implemented supervision and control mechanisms, the study points out that an important step could be to enrich the legislation to respond better to the challenge of offering equal opportunities for all in education.
Another positive aspect of the Chilean legislation is that it explicitly prohibits discrimination against students. However, the study signals the need to revise “admission tests that establish criteria and differentiation which in practice lead to selectivity”.
The study also highlights the Chilean system of scholarships and subsidies aimed at improving equality of opportunity. The impact of these positive practices, is, however, diminished in a context in which education is still not sufficiently conceived as a public good. This is why the current controversies revolve around economic considerations, moving away from the meaning and purpose of the right to education.
The study shows that the legislations of Argentina and Uruguay are explicit in preventing education from being treated as a consumer good. The Constitution of Chile emphasizes the protection of the preferential right of parents to educate their children, while the Constitution of Finland gives guarantees for educational opportunities. In this respect, the Constitution of Uruguay places emphasis on education as a public utility. This means that, given that the law in Chile gives parents a high degree of responsibility in their children’s education, the role of the State needs to be strengthened as the institutional safeguard of the right to education, in preventing discrimination and ensuring a quality education.
During his visit in Chile, Vernor Muñoz shared his findings and analysis with the Minister of Education, Mr. Felipe Bulnes, and his team. He also met with the Education Commission of the National Congress, with senators, students, parents, civil society representatives, academics and agencies from the UN system in Chile.
The study, led by the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, considers follow-up activities in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Chile. This will allow monitoring possible changes in the educational system in the country. “The Chilean educational system has always been a reference for other countries and we believe that the advances that are being developed here will serve as a model for other countries that are also working to improve their right to education”, Jorge Sequeira concluded.
El derecho a la educación: una mirada comparativa. Argentina, Uruguay, Chile y Finlandia
Vernor Muñoz Interview (In Spanish)
Former Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education (2004-2010)
For more information:
Victoria Uranga Harboe firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. 472 46 14 – 472 46 07 – 472 46 06
Coordinator of the Knowledge Management Section
Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean