“In Chile there is an institutional design that allows and sustains inequality. Depending on what social class you are born in or what school you attend, there is a system of school organization and classification that develops, exacerbates and legitimizes inequalities, instead of reducing them,” say the results of a study presented on December 15 by the Research Center for Inclusive Education (Eduinclusiva).
This scientific evidence was obtained from a nationally representative survey of basic and secondary school students, and their parents, teachers and principals, with the aim of characterizing the school and family transitions experienced by children and adolescents (NNA) in Chile and relating these transitions to their educational trajectories.
“The results are dramatic,” says Verónica López, director of the Educational Center and academic at the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso. “The possibility that a child in Chile has of having a continuous and linear trajectory over time – that is, finishing the last year of secondary education in the expected time and with the same classmates with whom he started in first grade – is small and is even lower for the most vulnerable students.”
According to Juan Carlos Oyanedel – researcher at Eduinclusiva, academic at the Andrés Bello University and responsible for the study together with Dr. López – “The effects of these irregular trajectories on educational achievement, product of internal segregation by achievement or other elements, are negative and increase the probability of repetition and desertion”.
In Chile, only 13.9% of secondary school students have a regular educational career. The results of this study support the thesis that the guarantees of social and educational rights of children are designed in an unequal way due to the – still permanent – segregation of the school system, both at the level of institutional design and in its organizational practices within the school.
Segmented school cultures
The school institutions characterized in the study titled “Unequal by Design: Family Transitions and Inequity in the School System” represent groups of people who have different characteristics.
“Clearly and through multiple indicators it is observed that there is a very protected space in the highest socioeconomic levels,” the researchers explain.
Thus, for example, in schools with a lower School Vulnerability Index (IVE) or without IVE – that is, in those schools that teach students who are not in a situation of poverty – higher levels of subjective and social well-being, fewer problems of violence, fewer family and school transitions, and higher educational expectations are evident.
On the other hand, in schools, colleges and lyceums with a high IVE – that is, they teach the poorest students in the country – a greater number of family and school transitions are reported, lower levels of well-being in students, but also in their teachers, and low educational expectations on the part of teachers and parents.
“There is still at the national level an institutional design that facilitates the development of segmented school cultures, where some schools recruit good students, organize them and obtain good results in a space of high expectations and others simply do what they can with the resources they have,” López and Oyanedel say in the study.
Right to education
The report of the results of the research was presented during a webinar in which Francisca Morales, Education Officer of Unicef Chile, and Pamela Meléndez, lawyer of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, participated together with the responsible researchers.
According to the UNICEF representative, the quality of the educational experience is key to full development and learning capacity. “The school has to be seen as a space of integral protection. The challenge of being a school capable of welcoming diversity has to do with generating competences and capacities to also look at the links and interactions and in that sense the study makes a tremendous contribution in collecting the systemic look and focusing on the interaction between the family system and the school system”, Says.
Pamela Meléndez, lawyer of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, highlighted the emphasis that this research places on education as a human right and on the duty that the E has.stado to guarantee it. “The opportunity it offers us is to identify those problems that are at the center of our society that do not allow the full realization of Human Rights, that are not delivering the right to education universally,” he said.
For Eduinclusiva researchers, thinking about school globally implies understanding the role it plays in mitigating social problems, and in community strengthening, citizen training and democratic coexistence. “To achieve inclusive education, it is necessary to ensure and accompany diverse and flexible trajectories, generating conditions of access, but also of permanence, learning, promotion and participation for all children and young people.”