Minister questions quality of education:
Explains results of Aptitude test and argues the need for reform
ChilNet extract from La Epoca
20 January 1997
following interview with Education Minister Juan Pablo Arellano
appeared in La Epoca Jan. 17. Among other things, he discusses
the results of the Academic Aptitude Test (PAA), the national
exam all students must take in order to attend college. The
minimum acceptable weighted score for admission to a public
university is 450 points.)
LE: You are
currently designing the new high school curricula and some
sectors have suggested orienting this level of education toward
technical training. What is the ministry's position?
JPA: We are not
going to go in that direction because Chile has a high proportion
(of technical education) compared to other countries: around 40
percent of those in high school are in technical training. What
we are going to do is improve content, bring it up to date,
because there are many specialties which are out of date.
the results of the PAA, do you believe that high school students
are being well prepared for higher education or the work force?
JPA: The results
of the PAA are an indication of the need... to reform education,
because it shows that the quality of education that high school
students acquire leaves a lot to be desired. Forty-three percent
of the students who took the PAA got less than 450 points on
Math. That means they must have answered 12 or fewer of the 60
questions correctly. ... We have problems with high school
education, hence the reform.
LE: With the
transition bill approved, won't it produce an asymmetry between
the students of those 3,000 schools and those who will enter the
new system in the coming years?
transition bill) establishes what we had in the original bill:
only those schools that have the infrastructure conditions could
begin the extended school day this year, and then voluntarily.
LE: It has been
said that the bill is unconstitutional because it violates
educational freedom. Are you concerned that (critics) will ask
for a ruling from the Constitutional Tribunal?
JPA: Concern over
educational freedom in our country has had to do with freedom in
educational content, and this reform allows that, as well as
giving parents the freedom to choose where their children study.
LE: The private
sector says schools will have to reduce the number of students if
they cannot construct more infrastructure, as a result of the
obligatory extended school day...
JPA: But the bill
has an article which expressly prohibits the reduction of the
student body because of the extended schedule and assures the
current number of students.
LE: What will
happen if the 18 percent value-added tax is not maintained?
maintaining the IVA we cannot extend the school day and the
reform is without effect, because we would not be able to
implement one of the four pillars of the reform. *