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Chile

Teaching Profession

Previous to the foundation of the magisterio (educationist circle) education for the non-privileged was scarce and was the clergy domain, private schools and upper class count with individuals who were highly educated, mostly in European countries who served as tutors.

In 1842, the Escuela Normal de Preceptores (Normal Teacher School) became the first institution intended for elementary school male teachers. Normal schools at the time began as secondary education when students apart from receiving traditional education corresponding to the level, a curricular parallel pedagogical program was incorporated for five years. Those individuals who held regular secondary school diplomas could attend normal schools for two additional years to obtain the adequate training to become teachers.

The first counterpart for females, Escuela Normal de Preceptoras, was founded in 1854, replicating the standard model for normal schools already established. The foundation of the Instituto Pedagógico (Pedagogical Institute) for secondary educators in 1889 in Santiago was the corner stone for the professionalization of teachers. The institute was incorporated as part of the University of Chile known as Facultad the Filosofía, acquiring the status other professions received.

The Compulsory Primary Instruction Law of 1920 simultaneously incorporated development courses for teachers required to implement innovative pedagogical practices. To 1927, the Ministry of Education offered educational teacher exchange programs to Europe, mainly to Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and the United States to study the most advanced teaching techniques. The educational progressive movement that incorporated into school pedagogy influenced by Dalton, Montessori, and others led by Chilean teachers became a model and the object of study for other nations that later on adopted these methodologies in Latin America.

Normal schools and tertiary teacher education institutions coexisted for decades. In fact, normal schools were supervised by universities. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, common interests between normal schools preparing elementary school teachers and universities were evident. For example, since 1929, the maximum authority of elementary education, the primary education general director was member of the national University Council.

Beginning in 1928, elementary teachers who worked for a year in public schools and satisfactorily passed an exam offered by a committee assigned by universities were granted a university diploma accrediting their profession. The teaching profession at the university level was not a mere transfer of normal programs, a modality adopted by many countries in Latin America, once students graduated from secondary schools, they continued higher education studies that added years of innovative theory pedagogical models and further foundations to the field.

The professionalization of elementary and secondary teachers was developed early nationally as compared to other countries in the region where until recently normal schools graduate students.

Normal schools were eradicated as educational institutions in 1988 by the military regime. Those who wanted to become teachers had to attend universities that were transformed into the only organisms authorized to graduate such professionals. Due to privatization, other institutions grant teaching degrees, however, on a limited basis. To 1999, some 29 institutions were accredited nationwide (18 universities & 11 professional institutes) in teacher education offering programs that vary between 9 and 10 semesters.

Due to the fact that historically salaries have jeopardized the teaching profession, objectives of the democratic governments and the Ministry of Education in order to overcome the issue have included: developing projects that provide promotions, modifying salaries on a fixed scale nationwide offering incentives for the most rural areas, where school professionals resist to go, and allocating financial resources for further professional development.

Teachers who work in elementary and secondary public schools are under the Statute of Education's Professionals (Estatuto de los Profesionales de la Educación) approved in July 1991. According to this law, those educators who work for municipal institutions have the character of public service professionals.

Degrees offered by the universities are licenciatura, magister, and doctor in education, directed mainly to administrative positions and the continuation of higher education to those who already hold the title in pedagogy. The professional title obtained in Chile is Profesor de Estado.

Professional educators are distributed as 85 percent working in subsidized institutions whereas 15 percent work in private schools. Chilean teachers are categorized according to their areas of specialization: preschool education 7 percent, special education 3 percent, elementary education 52 percent, and secondary education 39 percent.


In-service Resources: The Center for In-service Pedagogical Training, Experimentation and Investigation was created in 1967 (Centro de Perfeccionamiento, Experimentación e Investigaciones Pedagógicas or CPEIP) to provide permanent professional development and support, test programs, and develop curricular agendas. Programas de Perfeccionamiento (development programs) are offered by the Ministry of Education or university institutions non conducive to degrees to in-service educators. These programs are equivalent to continuing education, development or formal refresher classes having the objective to update studies within the profession or discipline. When these programs are not offered at the regional level, leaders are sent to the centers representing different zones holding the responsibility to disseminate the knowledge at their local levels.

The Microcentros de Programación Pedagógica were created to provide in-service training to teachers who work in isolated areas of the country. Meeting once a month, teachers discuss school problematics related to curriculum decisions and receive technical support from techno-pedagogical supervisors from the Ministry of Education. These centers are autonomous and are organized cooperatively by their members according to their needs.

The Basic Rural Program, a sub-division of the P-900 program, has provided professional development to those teachers who are marginal from urban centers due to geographical distances. Special emphasis has been given to benefit teachers who work at multi-grade incomplete schools with a maximum of three teachers. Particular attention has been put into content areas, functionality of performance, and technology education coping with the demands of contemporary society.

One of the four components incorporated by the government into the reform of 1996 includes the fortalecimiento de la profesión docente (strengthening the teaching profession) directed to in-service teachers' development. This initiative includes: curricular up-dating; financial support for prospective teachers; pasantías, and diplomados (scholarships) to study abroad (pasantías include short exposure to professional experiences, while diplomados combine theoretical and practical studies conducive to a specialization); professional individual excellence awards; and institutional excellence awards. Additionally, the Centro de Recursos Educativos is a Web site created for teachers organized to offer curricular support.


Professional Organizations: The first educators' labor union, Asociación de Educación Nacional, was founded in 1904 joining all individuals who had interest in teaching which focus of attention was intellectual development.

The Asociación General de Profesores de Chile was created in 1923 after a strike that took place as a consequence of not receiving their salaries. This organization influenced the progressive Reforma Integral de la Enseñanza (Integral Teaching Reform) during the 1920s gaining power over educational decision makings for a decade.

Chilean teachers were well known through history as political left wing activists who represented a threat to some authoritarian governments. For this reason, labor unions were in particular historical instances suspended to be considered powerful leader organizations.

It was not until the 1950s when the Asociación de Profesores de Estado was organized by secondary educators graduated from the universities excluding those from normal schools.

The Sindicato Unico de Trabajadores de la Educación was created in 1970, grouping all sort of educators for the first time. Two years later, the organization was recognized by the state revoking a law that prohibited state workers to unionize. This union joined the Central Unica de Trabajadores, becoming one of the most powerful organizations in the history of the country. The Military junta suspended all association rights to be only recovered eighteen years later. To 2001, the Colegio de Profesores de Chile Asociación Gremial (Labor Union) is the official organization that negotiate teachers contracts and oversees professional conditions adequate to social demands for its members.


Technology in Public Education: Technology has expanded greatly during the last decade in the country, a concept that has successfully been introduced in public education. However, as resources are limited, so is technology. One of the most ambitious projects of the Ministry of Education has been the creation of the Red Educaciónal Enlaces (Links National Network) an interactive service to support students at the elementary and secondary levels. This consists of computers installed in public school facilities subscribed to the Internet that connects public schools emphasizing rural areas to reduce isolation. Fifty percent of elementary schools in the country and one hundred percent of secondary schools will participate in this project. This project is one of the components the Ministry has implemented known as Programa de Mejoramiento de la Calidad y Equidad de la Educación or MECE (Quality and Equity Education Improvement Program.)

The first distance courses offered in the country were designed for educators sponsored by universities. One of these examples is Teleduc. This service was created in 1977 by the Pontific Catholic University to develop and coordinate resources optimized by the Corporación de Televisión, channel 13, to be offered to their university and the community focusing on elementary and secondary education. The successful programs expanded rapidly, extending the service to other areas. Up to 1999, an average of 25,000 students per year register in their courses offering 32 percent in teaching development, 32 percent in general education, 10 percent in languages, 9 percent to educate women, and 17 percent in other areas. Lately, this service has expanded into international cooperation projects. Tele y Videoconferences are offered by a number of private institutions (governmental and nongovernmental) that benefit citizens at the national level.


Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceChile - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Nonformal Education