It has taken long years to advance the social and educational recognition of early childhood. Although there is full consensus that it is essential to prioritize policies at an early stage in order to achieve greater opportunities, it has not been possible to consolidate in our country, a comprehensive and systematic strengthening of this educational level. These are long-term policies where the return is not immediate. Therefore, the significant reduction in enrollment in 2021 is very worrying, which is not explained only by the consequences of the pandemic. Let us agree that the absence of an agreed roadmap with a long-term view has affected trust, pedagogical validation and its positive socio-educational impacts. Therefore, the problem we face is broader and more complex, we will have to rethink together the vital itineraries to claim a public agenda that definitely prevents any neoliberal experiment in early childhood as has been intended to be installed in these years. Undoubtedly, one of the main challenges will be to recover assistance in initial education in a framework of trust and appreciation.
In this way, regarding the transformations that are required to build a more just, equitable and inclusive country, let us admit that in the government of M. Bachelet the most structural, profound public policy was promoted and with the greatest public investment in the history of preschool education, based on three axes: coverage, quality and institutionality, with a set of concrete and decisive measures for families and their children. Some had to prevail obligatorily in the government of S. Piñera, such as the teaching career for educators, others on the other hand, were paralyzed and even more, were strongly questioned, such as the national program of construction of public gardens. Later, paradoxically, the authorities recognized and celebrated the meaning of these works, with new environmental, architectural and pedagogical standards; it was up to them to proudly inaugurate the first free public kindergarten built in Chile’s richest commune. New airs of the longed-for inclusion.
However, against all odds, there was never a plan to expand more establishments and quotas in the public sector, not even before the pandemic, nor during the promise of a universal crib room. The political will of this government, contrasting everything advanced, was to install the questioned subsidy model in kindergartens, to incorporate them into the logic of competition with obvious disadvantages; a financing system guided by market dynamics, whose consequences on the school system have been widely criticized. Huge task will be the one that comes to make up for lost time.
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