Chilean Presidential Candidate Discusses Education at ACE
With his wife Francisca, Claudio Orrego, a mayor of Santiago and presidential candidate for 2014, sat down with members of ACE faculty and staff to discuss the state of education in his country. Over lunch hosted by ACE co-founder and Director of the Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI) Fr. Tim Scully, Mayor Orrego outlined Chile's current economic and educational ups and the downs.
"[Chile] has grown and prospered," the Mayor said, "but not all have benefited equally."
In fact, though statistically the country ranks about average in terms of global economies, just 10% of the population holds the nation's wealth. 90 percent live on less—-in some cases, much less—-than $8,000/year. Mayor Orrego calls this the Tyranny of Averages.
Given the way education is structured, this tyranny has closed many school doors to Chile's poorest children, an injustice that has brought thousands of protesting students to the streets in the past year.
The message hasn't been lost on Mr. Orrego. Under his leadership as mayor of Peñalolén, Santiago, per pupil investment is on the rise, as are student test scores and the number of students enrolling in higher education, which has grown from just 8% in 2007 to a whopping 63% in 2011.
"Our goal," says the popular politician, "must be to ensure that more people can share in the benefits of living in Santiago." As he fights for social justice there, so he fights for it across the country. "Any positive change in any place...is also a positive change for Chile."