The 1833 Political Constitution of the Republic of Chile, drafted and approved only fifteen years afterwards after the country had won its independence from the Spanish crown on the battlefield at Maipú, makes explicit reference to education in its Article N°153: “Public education is a preferential attention of the Government” and N°154, defined that “There will be a superintendence of public education, in charge of which will be the inspection of national education, and its direction under the authority of the Government”.

In 1842, the law creating the University of Chile was passed, which established that the Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities would be in charge of the direction of public primary schools. In 1860, the law on Primary Education was passed, which was to be provided free of charge, and in 1879, the law on Secondary and Higher Education was passed, in 1927, the Ministry of Public Education was definitively created, in 1964, the National Board of School Aid and Scholarships was created, in 1967, the Teacher Training Centre was created, and in 1970, the National Board of Kindergartens was created.

From independence until 1973, public education was a determining factor in the formation of children and young people. Public education was an instance of formation and progress for thousands of students who received a quality education.

Since the last century, most of the presidents of the Republic have been sons and daughters of public education: Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Juan Antonio Ríos, Carlos Ibáñez, Gabriel González Videla, Jorge Alessandri and Salvador Allende. Since the return to democracy in 1990, Patricio Aylwin, Ricardo Lagos and Michel Bachelet.

From 1974 onwards, public education took a different direction. That year, the dissolution of all teacher training colleges was decreed. In 1980, the municipalisation of education was established and the 1980 Constitution laid the foundations for what would become the segregation of education according to the economic capacity of families under the false premise of freedom of education, and on 10 March 1990, the Constitutional Organic Law on Education (LOCE) was published in the Official Gazette.

On the return of democracy, the tradition of public education being a preferential attention of the Government was taken up again, extending compulsory and free education up to the fourth year of secondary school (2003) as well as kindergarten (2013), in 2009 the Law on Quality Assurance in Education was passed, in 2015 the Law on School Inclusion was passed which, among other things, put an end to profit in education, in 2016 free education in higher education was achieved and in 2017 the New Public Education System was created.

Today again there are those who, from their positions of privilege, believe that the Constitutional proposal is exaggerated and goes against the freedom of education by establishing education as a right and that it should be secular and free, and that the State should finance it with basal contributions “in a permanent, direct, relevant and sufficient manner”.

At Fundación Semilla we agree that education is the biggest and best public policy to level the playing field and move closer to a society of equal opportunities. To do so with commitment and responsibility in order to raise the standard, without ever forgetting that public education is a priority for the government.