Opinion Column


Collective Action to Take a Leap in Education

    Published: July 12, 2019

This week Acción Colectiva por la Educación (ACE, Collective Action for Education) introduced 16 proposals to improve crucial areas in the country’s school system. ACE brings together 18 organizations with experience and practical knowledge in several areas related to educational improvement. They represent a civil society’s expression that seeks to contribute with the construction of an educational system of quality that entails equity and inclusiveness.

Their proposals focus mainly on key areas that require action to bridge actual gaps in terms of access, equity, quality, and inclusion, and that currently affect the Chilean school system. These gaps, dramatic and persistent, reduce opportunities for thousands of boys, girls and teens caught in lower income sectors, and hold them back from developing their potential throughout their lives.

As a matter of fact, improving Early Education, Strengthening Executive Teams, advancing in Inclusion and Diversity and, ultimately, bettering classroom learning through Innovations and Effective Practices in the Classroom are the main dimensions to strengthen the education system, yet the public policy efforts during the last decades have been incipient, inconsistent, or have had a low impact. The entities participating in ACE literally accumulate decades of experience and knowledge on these four areas which they have decided to share and systematize to make a substantive contribution to the public policy discussion.

For an educational system that has been subject to incessant cycles of reforms of different dimensions and depths, it is essential to count with feedback and learning mechanisms that allow it to consolidate and bear the efforts made, as well as to introduce changes when there is evidence recommending it.

The background analyzed by ACE suggests that in many cases, the reforms or efforts developed are well focused but still lack more suitable designs for their implementation. For example, an adequate course of action is to strengthen the School Directive Team role through selection processes that depend in Senior Public Management (“Alta Dirección Pública”); however and simultaneously, there are incentives that have reduced the interest of highly competent educators to follow this path. Another example is the sophistication of systems to measure the school system performance that are not complemented by efforts, of similar magnitude to strengthen the capacities of schools to improve the quality of learning. Attaining better mechanisms to identify in a valid and reliable way the effective practices in educational improvement is another of the proposals that ACE has made.

The ability of the country to monitor progress in education and raise complex discussions with robust data will only enrich the debate and raise the voice of social actors who do not participate directly in legislative debates and who also do not defend any particular interests or short-term agendas.

It is important to note that several of the proposals ACE has brought forward, agree with those proposed by the current administration, but also, address the tension between the public consensus on certain issues such as equity, and the issues installed in the public discussion on education in recent months. We hope that government and congressional authorities value the opportunity that the ACE recommendations offer in hope to deepen and continue citizen dialogue in education.

This column was published in La Tercera