SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera signed on Monday into law a bill broadening the scope of free technical and professional education, a measure that will benefit some 13,000 students.
The initiative, which will enter into force in 2019, extends free education to students at professional institutes and technical training centers who come from families in the country’s lower 70 percent, economically speaking.
Piñera said that the law will mitigate the “treatment inequality” by the state that has existed vis-a-vis technical/professional students compared to others pursuing higher or additional specialized education.
“One must acknowledge that higher technical/professional education has not received from the state the recognition and the support it deserves, often being postponed due to the needs of the universities,” said the president at a ceremony at the seat of the executive branch.
According to Piñera, in recent years about 15 percent of the state financing for higher education has been destined for the technical/professional sector, despite the fact that in 2017 43.5 percent of all students enrolled at higher educational institutions were from this group.
So, he said that broadening the scope of free education in this area is an “acknowledgement and a reparation” to technical/professional students, who represent an “indispensable force for our development.”
“Our government is absolutely committed to strengthening this weak link in our production chain and in prioritizing the most vulnerable students in technical/professional higher education in (our) effort to expand cost-free (education),” Piñera concluded.
In Chile, there are 43 professional institutions with 377,000 registered students as well as 48 Technical Training Centers where 136,000 people study.