Photo by Mark Tiewes.
AFP reports, “Over a hundred students were arrested in Santiago (on August 23) in clashes between police and demonstrators demanding better public education, after the occupation of several schools. Some 4,500 students, mostly from high schools and universities, took to the streets to demand improvements in Chile’s public education system, said to be among the most expensive and unequal in the world. …The student movement erupted last year amid growing calls for sweeping education reform, free college education and central government control over public schools. Public education in Chile suffered from sharp cuts in funding during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, leaving a system that favors expensive private schools that are out of the reach of the poor.” Major protests have been taking place on this issue for the past 15 months in Chile. Last summer the BBC reported, “protests initially triggered by students demanding educational reform have grown into a more general movement demanding constitutional reform, improved pension provision, new labour laws and corporate tax increases to pay for education and health.” In this context, we need to speak out more against the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (which administers the pensions for 178,000 public school teachers, principals and school administrators, and pays pensions to 117,000 retirees) which last year increased its ownership of Chilean private water utilities Essbio and Esval from 50.83 percent and 69.4 percent respectively to 95 percent ownership. The Council of Canadians has repeatedly said that the pension fund for public school teachers should not be invested in private water, www.canadians.org/OTPP.