Higher education and Chile

Following years of widespread public strikes from its student population, Chile has made the monumental decision to make all higher education free by increasing the taxes of corporations. Sounds like an amazing idea, right? If it is such a great idea, why aren’t we following this model in the United States?

To put it simply, we have the wrong people in Congress to allow for such an amazingly brilliant idea to come to fruition. We have “experienced” (a polite way of saying elderly, in all honesty) politicians who receive funding and donations from colleges designed to make a profit, not to deliver on the so-called promise of educating the masses as they should.

Granted, Chile’s situation was much worse than ours here in the U.S. Following a model designed by former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the system of public education was restructured to fit a market model; therefore, all education was privatized in the country and was driven purely by profit. While students in the U.S have been experiencing massive increases in tuition and such when it comes to post high school education, our troubles are nothing in comparison to the trials and tribulations of the students who fought and won their education. But is this a possible scenario for us? Could the cost of college continue to rise to such heights that we all take to the streets en masse to fight for the education that is our right?

It took the students of Chile three years of protesting to win their education, with colossal numbers as high as 800,000 men and women gathering in the streets and proudly proclaiming that “education is a human right.” The movement itself was supported by over 80 percent of the Chilean population. And now, they have won. The Chilean government has raised the taxes of corporations in the country to ensure that a college education will be free for those who seek to achieve it.

Could this happen in the U.S? Would our government decide to raise the taxes of American corporations in order to pay for the education of its citizens? Time will tell, but the possibilities are relatively dim.

As we see more and more countries making the decision to prioritize education over profit, more and more questions will begin to come up: Why isn’t this happening here? How can the U.S claim to be such a powerhouse of equality when we refuse to accept and recognize issues of inequality throughout our country? How long will it take for our government to begin governing for the masses, rather than allowing the richest 1 percent of the country to continue to line the pockets of the politicians who decide on our collective futures?

Congratulations to Chile for thinking of their citizens. Hopefully it won’t take long for the U.S to get on board the education train. Time will tell.