The background of this “walk in the rain” is the rejection of the government’s new proposal revealed through a disrespectful reading of a text from Education Minister Felipe Bulnes, which doesn’t put an end to profiteering in the education system but only renegotiate student loans and extend their offer to low-income families.

But as the peaceful occupation of high schools and universities is still fiercely on going after 3 months of massive protests, concern is also raised about the secondary students who have been on a hunger strike for more than 30 days, and when almost all of the conservative Catholic University’s students have joined the educational strike.

A massive number of secondary students attended the demonstration and showed their rejection of the government’s latest proposal. “Promises are made to enforce a law that would forbid profiteering in education but only in higher education although this system is consolidating and getting endorsed in grounds as crucial as primary and secondary education” claimed secondary institutions through the Coordination Assembly of Secondary Students (known as ACES by its Spanish acronym).

The government’s third response to the citizens demands contains 4 central ideas: a combined system of grants and loans for 60 per cent of the most vulnerable students; the decrease of the average interest rates on loans with state support from 5.6 to 2.0 per cent ; the application of the law forbidding profiteering in the education system through the creation of a Superintendency of Higher Education and the end of municipal control for “under standard quality” institutions.

The students dismiss the tricky and ambiguous behavior of Education Minister Bulnes, which is only demonstrating the various ways of directing the families’ money toward banks, financial institutions and private schools. The reason for this is that the decrease from 5.6 to 2.0 per cent of the interest rates on loans with state support will force the state to subsidize private banks for the remaining percentage, meaning the state will have to draw on its own reserves to pay for the remaining 3.6 per cent.

On the student march of the 100 000 umbrellas, Camila Vallejo – spokeswoman of the Chilean Student Federation (known by its Spanish acronym FECH) pointed out that the latest signs offered by Sebastiàn Piñera’s government seemed to be legitimating profiteering in education.

Meanwhile, Jaime Gajardo- president of the Schoolteacher College- claimed that concerning the supervision and control to prevent businessmen from making profit in education, minister Bulnes is only referring to the academic system, but “what will happen with primary and secondary education ? Profiteering is an issue in the entire education system and not only the academic one.”

The teachers’ president also maintained that “if the possibility of taking the schools out of municipal control is indeed announced, we are still left with various questions concerning this matter, such as whether or not the state will be in charge of these schools, a crucial matter considering that is what we demanded. It is also said that this new plan will be financed with more subventions. If it is done with the same financing methods, this would mean giving more resources to the privates than to the public sector, when they are the ones making profit with state money today” detailed the teachers’ union president.

*Translated from Spanish by Pauline Goetghebeur*