Three weeks of widespread school occupations and two nationwide strikes have won most of the “economic” demands of school students in Chile.
The students have been fighting against the impact of the privatisation of the education system. The state system was privatised in 1990, with some schools put into the hands of companies.
Other schools were put under the control of councils, where they were then starved of money. Private schools spend five times more per pupil than those run by councils.
The students’ demands have been integrated into the presidential “education consultative committee”.
The school students are forming a block with university students and teachers – inside and outside the committee – to carry on the struggle for a new education system.
The protests squeezed from the government free final exams and free bus travel for the poorest 60 percent of students. And more money has been assigned to school maintenance and improvements.
The press has been bemused by the way the students’ national assembly was so democratic and has been looking for “outside influences”.
But they don’t get the simple fact that democracy is what you need to build a big, vibrant and honest movement.
That message resounds loud and clear among hundreds of thousands of people in Chile.