Maintaining VAT for education a good decison.
Interview with Education Minister Jose Pablo Arellano
ChilNet extract from El Mercurio
4 March 1997
(Ed. Note: Primary through high school children returned to classes this
week, but the educational reform passed last year is still not
fully in effect. Only some schools will be implementing the
longer schoolday, and the government and the opposition still
have not reached a consensus on how to finance the reform.
interview with Education Minister Jose Pablo Arellano, which
touches on these issues and more, was published in El Mercurio
EM: How much
money is needed annually to implement the educational reform in
JPA: People have
tended to associate the reform only with the extension of the
schoolday. That is only one of the areas, which requires the
investment of a significant amount of resources, because we are
increasing weekly hours from 30 to 38 in primary and middle
school education and up to 42 hours in junior and senior high
EM: Will city
government pay for the growth in infrastructure?
JPA: No, the
state will pay both things in the case of subsidized schools,
which are the majority in the country. And that requires a
significant and growing amount of funds. That is what has
compelled the government to argue that it is necessary to
maintain the VAT (sales tax) at 18 percent.
EM: Since Frei
took power in 1994, he said that education would be the great
leap forward. Why wasn't some other financing method planned for
the reform, rather than maintaining the VAT at 18 percent in
JPA: Well, the
longer schoolday is only part of the reform, and this announced
only recently on May 21, 1996, not in 1994.
minister, but you still haven't responded. Why does the
government insist on maintaining the VAT at 18 percent, if the
agreement was that that (rate) was temporary?
JPA: Because the
extended schoolday is going to be permanent and growing over
EM: But why
finance it through the VAT? Why was the proposal for a National
Education Fund made by the Brunner Report rejected?
JPA: Because that
fund included a program of selling public companies, and this has
seemed to us a better financing method. We are recommending
maintaining a tax and that the country, instead of stimulating
consumption, invests those funds in education. It's a very good
decision from the perspective of assigning the country's
EM: Despite the
criticisms that the Conversational Sessions on Affection and
Sexuality (JOCAS) received last year, the government will insist
on carrying them out in permanent and massive form this year.
JPA: In the
second semester of this year the sessions will be repeated in 200
schools. And what we are doing is collecting suggestions about
how to improve the program.
EM: Can parents
and guardians decide not to let their children attend the
they can. And not just that. We are going to give parents a
greater role. It's the family that has the responsibility of
giving sexual education to the children. This is an aid to them
and consequently we have to involve them as much as possible in
these sessions. We also aspire to having sexual education during
the entire schooling process.
EM: Why does the
state meddle in issues that correspond to parents?
JPA: What the
state seeks is for educational communities, parents along with
teachers, take charge of the issue, given that it is a reality
that youths need sexual education. *