Education, the broken promise. Effort, fears and hopes of Chilean families in the educational market

Event Sponsor
Center for Latin American Studies

This lecture is based on a book of the same title that was recently published as part of a larger research team.

Forty years after market-oriented reforms radically transformed the Chilean school system, the book provides the most comprehensive view concerning how parents navigate this “consolidated” market-driven educational system, characterized by school choice, vouchers, competition, privatization, payment, for-profit schools, and selection procedures; thus, the entire catalogue of market policies in education.

How do parents make sense of all of these? The book (based on qualitative studies carried out since 2013, using semi-structured interviews and focus groups involving approximately 200 participants) presents the reflections, experiences and perspectives of Chilean mothers and fathers from different social classes and geographic origins whose children attend different types of schools (i.e. public, subsidized private and non-subsidized private).

Four critical education research and policy areas are addressed: i) school choice and parents’ willingness to pay for their children’s education, ii) socioeconomic school segregation and school admission processes, iii) schools’ discriminatory practices and children’s medication, and iv) parental perceptions on public and private schools, and the sociocultural schools’ composition.

Since market-oriented reforms are widely discussed in international education policy, this conference is an opportunity to delve into those policies' long-term sociocultural and institutional consequences using the Chilean case as a privileged analytical lens.

Cristián Bellei is Associate Researcher at the Center for Advanced Research in Education, University of Chile. He has been a Tinker Visiting Professor at Stanford University. He is a Sociologist from the University of Chile, Master of Education Policy and Doctor of Education, both from Harvard University. He has published extensively about Chilean education, mainly regarding education policy, school change and improvement, school segregation, privatization and school choice. His latest books include "The hIgh school in turbulent times. How has Chilean secondary education changed?" (LOM, 2020); and “Education, the broken promise. Effort, fears and hopes of Chilean families in the educational market” (ed. Marcela Ramos, Catalonia, 2022), which will be the topic of this conference.

Marcela Ramos is an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow at the School of Education, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. Before joining the University of Glasgow, she was a Senior Associate Teacher at the School of Education, University of Bristol. She has a PhD in Education (University of Bristol), a Master’s in Public Policy (School of Economics, University of Chile) and a bachelor’s in Journalism. Her research interests are at the intersection of Education, Sustainable Futures and Political Economy. in Chile, she conducted research on the topic of the marketisation of education. She is particularly interested in understanding the parental subjectivities, values, practices and beliefs regarding education among middle and upper-class parents navigating a school system characterised by selective practices, privatisation and segregation.