Background of the 2006 Student Protests in Chile

The Organic Constitutional Act of Teaching or LOCE (Act Nº 18,962) was enacted on March 7, 1990 and came into force on March 10, the last day of Pinochet's 16½ year dictatorship. Despite being widely criticized by both students and teachers as well as the ruling coalition (Concertación), it has remained largely unmodified since the restoration of democracy.

Critics of LOCE point out that it reduces the state's participation in education to a solely regulatory and protective role, whilst the true responsibility of education has been transferred to private and public corporations (public schools being managed by local governments -- Municipalidades), thus reducing the participation that students, parents, teachers and non-academic employees had previously enjoyed in their schools.

During the 1990s, one of the main objectives of the Concertación administration was a so-called Educational Reform. One of the main pillars of this reform, launched during the Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle administration, was the Jornada Escolar Completa, JEC (Full-time School Day policy) -- a plan to increase the hours that high school students actually spend in classrooms (in many cases not increasing the number of additional classrooms and other infrastructure required). However, many consider that the quality of education has dropped to worrying levels despite the high level of government spending on public education. Studies have showed that the JEC still has not been correctly implemented nor has it achieved the desired results.

Since 2000 a new demand has emerged with respect to the transport system's school pass and the new University Selection Test, and although much progress was made in some areas, the core of the students' demands have remained unsolved as of 2006.