The children start compulsory school at the
age of six at the age of six. Then follows a four-year
compulsory high school. Some drop-outs occur from high
school, but a large majority of students complete all 12
years of school.
The first two year courses at the high school are the
same for everyone, while the students during the last
two years can choose between practical and aesthetic
programs or specializations that prepare for further
Offers a list of biggest cities in the state of Chile, including the capital
city which hosts major colleges and universities.
Country facts of Chile, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
During the Pinochet regime a major school reform was
implemented. Among other things, this meant that the
municipalities were given responsibility for the public
schools, that the parents were given the right to choose
schools freely, and that the state subsidized most
schools via a school money for each student and that it
was free for private stakeholders to open schools.
There is broad agreement that the municipalization of
the schools led to increased gaps between the pupils of
the country. Particularly large is the gap between the
city and the countryside. Teaching is generally poorer
in public schools in poor municipalities or districts
and a majority of the pupils today attend government
subsidized privately owned schools. Between 1992 and
2012, over 860 public schools were closed while more
than 2,900 private schools were opened. Pupil escape
from public schools led to a steady fall in these
standards, as school fees decreased while spending
Many schools were also forced to close after being
denied their licenses due to financial problems and
shortcomings in teaching.
Since 2006, when giant protests were held, students
and schoolchildren have repeatedly demonstrated for
better quality and greater equality in teaching.
Criticism of the education system is also a key part of
the protest wave that shakes Chile in the fall of 2019.
Despite the efforts made by the government in recent
years as a result of the criticism, the general teaching
standard has hardly been raised. According to an OECD
survey, literacy is weak in just over half of adults in
Chile, compared to less than one in five on average in
Europe. About 15 percent of the adult population has a
In 2011, the teachers stood on the students' side and
demanded that the municipal schools be nationalized and
that the grants be greatly increased. Despite Chile
having one of Latin America's strongest economies,
education grants are well below what the UN agency
recommends. The government promised to improve the
finances of school pupils and students and to sign in
the constitution that everyone should be guaranteed good
quality education. But the protests continued with
repeated large-scale demonstrations and demands for
higher education reform.
When the left candidate Michelle Bachelet returned to
the presidential post in early 2014, it was with a clear
mandate to reform the education system, including by
stopping profit withdrawals from the free schools and
making college education free of charge. One year later,
the first legislative amendments were passed, which
included opening universities and colleges to everyone,
which prohibited profit-making activities in state
schools. A decision was made later in 2015 that
university studies should gradually become fee-free, and
by 2020 it should include everyone. Despite the reform
decisions, the protests continued. High interest rates
on student loans taken before the changes contribute to
There are some 60 universities, of which the oldest
is the University of Chile (Universidad de Chile) in
Santiago, founded in 1842.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
94.8 percent (2017)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
96.9 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
21.2 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
21.2 percent (2016)
Success for the left in municipal elections
The government alliance loses municipal elections in Santiago and several
other important cities. In total, the left bloc receives about 43 percent of the
vote, compared to 38 percent for President Piñera's center-right alliance. Only
40 percent of voters participate in the municipal elections, which is the first
to be held since it became voluntary (see Political system). Piñera calls the
low turnout "a warning sign".
An investigation into Allende's death is closed
A court finally decides that ex-president Salvador Allende committed suicide.
Experts have investigated Allende's remains the year before and concluded that
he took his own life in connection with the coup against him in 1973, (see
Modern history). It was unclear all year whether he was shot dead when the
military stormed the presidential palace. The court's decision to close the
investigation is announced on the day 39 years after the coup. Violence erupts
in several places, and a police officer is said to have been shot dead.
Many are arrested when school occupation is lifted
139 people, most of them students, are arrested when the police take action
to end a multi-week occupation of three schools in Santiago.
New anti-discrimination law adopted
President Piñera signs a new anti-discrimination law that both chambers
approved in the spring. The law has been dealt with by Parliament for seven
years, but the legislative process has regained momentum since suspected
neo-Nazis beat a gay man so badly that he died in March. The death toll
triggered a national outcry. The conservative UDI has opposed the law of concern
for opening the door to same-sex marriage.
Tax reform should provide funding for education
President Piñera presents a tax reform that he says will give money to higher
education and make it accessible to everyone. Tens of thousands of students
simultaneously participate in new protests in Santiago.
Green light for disputed dust project
The Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for the huge project Hidro Aysén in
Patagonia (see July 2011). As a result, only the approval of
the government for a 200-km long power line to Santiago remains to begin the
multi-billion building. The project consists of five planned hydropower plants
at two hitherto unspoilt rivers. The dam project is the largest planned in Chile
and would account for a third of the country's electricity. But many are worried
about the environmental effects, as a wilderness area of 6,000 hectares would
be submerged. The Minister of Energy resigns when he was not allowed to
participate in negotiations that put a stop to the protests, which have been
going on for a year. In May, one of the two companies behind Hidro Aysén
announces that the project is being put on ice, citing too weak support from the
government. Colbún calls for a well-established official energy strategy.
The term starts with new protests
Thousands of students begin the fall semester by once again demonstrating in
Santiago for demands for a college reform. An outbreak occurs outside the
Ministry of Education and about 50 people are arrested.