Thursday, 26 July 2012
Mel Brooks and the Student Movement in Chile
There is a classic double entendre in a Mel Brooks movie where Harvey Korman tells Brooks, in a Marie Antoinette setting, that 'the people are revolting'. I have borrowed the line for an extended piece published by the University of Miami's Center for Hemispheric Policy, here I have been Visiting Fellow this year. I try to explain (in English, for a change), some of the causes of what is happening in Chile.
It is not easy, as the back and forth with my editors will attest. Each point requires further explanation, especially to a foreign audience. Why must universities be non-profit, but not schools? Why are undergraduate programs so long? If 70% of tertiary students are first generation, why are they complaining about access? If they are in favour of public education and against high fees, why do they shut down public education for six months, but keep paying their fees during all that time? Why did they keep demonstrating once two education ministers resigned and the government agreed to several demands? Why do they tie in very specific demands, such as interest rates, with the electoral system or tax policy?
This is a complex issue, but here is my attempt to explain it. For now.