Chilean minister resigns after protests
Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:15AM GMT
Chilean Education Minister Felipe Bulnes resigned from the government on Thursday, December 29, 2011.
Chilean Education Minister Felipe Bulnes has resigned from the government– the second minister to have given up the post since the country’s students started protests in June, seeking education reforms.
Bulnes resigned on Thursday, saying he was leaving office for ‘personal reasons,’ though, observers said that he had become disappointed by the limits imposed by the Chilean government on negotiations with students.
The protests started in June, leading to the closure of hundreds of state schools and almost weekly clashes with the police on the streets of the capital, Santiago, virtually shutting down the country’s education system.
Bulnes took over from his predecessor Joaquin Lavin in July. Lavin had stood down, saying his legitimacy had been thrown into question by the huge student movement that had accused him of having strong ties with a private Santiago university.
His successor, Haral Beyer, has been welcomed by student leader Gabriel Boric as someone, whom he claimed “cares about education.”
The protesters, who have the support of professors and labor unions, are requesting President Sebastian Pinera’s government to guarantee free and quality university-level education for all Chileans.
Under the country’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose rule ended in 1990, state funding for public education was slashed, privatization encouraged, and responsibility for public schools trusted with municipalities, all rendering it impossible for the middle-class people to attend high-quality schools.