The previous government had achieved an unprecedented shift in policies and actions aimed at returning prestige to teaching. In particular, the Law on Teaching Professional Development, enacted in April 2016, and supported in its process by institutions such as El Educar and the call to more than 20 institutions training teachers and civil society in El Plan Maestro, made a leap by understanding the profession from teacher training, progressively increasing and diversifying the requirements of entry into pedagogy careers , also increasing the accreditation requirements of these careers, relaunching the Teacher Vocation Scholarship, substantially improving the remuneration of teachers, particularly initials, including those of the vast subsidized sector, and ensuring continuous training as a right that should not be paid by each teacher, among other measures, despite constant frictions with the College of Teachers given the form assumed by these new subjects.
This law seemed in the following years to show at least two virtuous effects on pedagogy careers: an increase in tuition in 2018 – after decades of a progressive decline, attributed by all sectors to the low social value attributed to the profession and its poor conditions of exercise and remuneration – and a decrease in applications during the years 2019 and 2020 , which focused on selective entities, as the requirements were raised.
It was a delicate process that had required a lot of legislative, economic, communication and participation effort. This fragility was exposed after being hard hit by the systematically unfortunate management of the situation of teachers and pandemic teaching by the authorities. For a full year, he strongly insisted on addressing pedagogy without teachers, and against teachers, urged them to return to face-to-face classrooms, unaware of the work they did from their homes, at times and with much more extensive and strenuous functions than usual, with pedagogical, material and economic resources of their own, without flooring or support to build networks and platforms for effective support for virtuality , for them or for the families of students. The message was clear: teachers are simply lazy, don’t want to work, and the only valid job is the one that is done in person at school. No one questioned other professions and trades that, like teaching, reinvented, adapted and transformed.
Certainly, the digital divide became synonymous with the educational gap, but it is not a problem attributable to teachers, but to political management, which allowed that gap to become apparent and grow, betting solely and porfidally on the return to in person, while teachers deployed their creativity and own agency.
The considerable drop in pedagogy career applications in this 2021 admission process can be explained, plausibly, because of the above. All the previous energy invested in the social revaluation of the teaching profession is shattered when for a year teachers have been assaulted, their individual pedagogical role and effort and entire educational communities have been unknown, and pedagogy has been reduced to a function that is only valuable if exercised in person and traditionally, wasting an unrepeatable opportunity to transform teaching , rigidizing the profession and violently discrediting it, which implies a setback of decades in this area.
A pre-pandemic survey – from February 2020 – showed that teaching was the fourth most valued profession by Chileans. It is not fortuitous that precisely one year later, under the conditions of grievance already indicated, there will be this drop in nominations, which seems to show the communicative effect of the public contempt of the authorities on the profession.
The content poured into this opinion column is excresponsibility of its author, and does not necessarily reflect the editorial line or position of El Mostrador.