The Aula Segura project, that was declared unconstitutional today, had been receiving critics from students, professors and experts for weeks. Students of the Coordinating Assembly of Secondary Students (ACES) protested near Plaza Baquedano against the Safe Classroom project this morning. A spokesman of the assembly expressed her concerns that the law will be used to “repress the children in Chile.”
The declaration of the Senate came as a surprise for the government, considering their response. “How is it going to be unconstitutional to expel a student who throws a molotov inside the school or sprays benzene on a teacher,” Marcela Cubillos, Minister of Education, said after the Senates verdict. “In any country of the world, these are crimes and not manifestations of “freedom of expression”.” She received strong critics from student movements, after her words.
The ACES attacked the Minister of Education on social media, stating that “It seems paradoxical that we speak of freedom of expression, when our Minister of Education is a follower of Jaime Guzmán (former right-hand of Augusto Pinochet, red.) and anti-abortion. What we demand is that the communities themselves can resolve and decide this theme. Clearly, a follower of the dictatorship will not agree with that!”
Hoy lxs estudiantes secundarixs nos manifestamos desplegando un lienzo para decir fuerte y claro que no nos amedrentaran con su ley que lo único que busca es reprimirnos! #AulaSeguraCómoEnDictadura @CNNChile @biobio pic.twitter.com/yc6GfVJBwB
— ACES – CHILE (@AcesChile) October 9, 2018
Teachers reject project: “A populist measure”
The national organization for Teachers had rejected the Aula Segura project earlier. The second vice-president of the organization, Jaime Gajardo, considered the project to be a “populist measure”. “(The initiative) doesn´t contribute to anything, we believe that it is a typical form of reaction, of not wanting to go to the bottom of the problems. It is a very repressive project, limited to a very specific situation” he explained.
Experts criticize project “It is a form of segregation”
In El Desconcierto, a Chilean online publication, two experts had earlier criticized the project, stating it doesn´t solve anything. “It does not have an educational logic, it has a punitive logic. The solution is a repressive one, a sanction, a rotten apple, and I think it could even be unconstitutional because it goes against the right to education,” Rodrigo Cornejo, executive director of the Chilean Observatory of Educational Policies (Opech), said.
Cornejo went on by saying there were no clear grounds for expulsion, specifically the one that punishes “the use, possession, possession or storage of items intended to cause damage to the establishment” as it leaves a lot of space for interpretation. “What if a director considers that vandalizing the bathroom with spray is damaging the establishment? Is attacking an adult – which is very serious – now the same as having a spray can in the backpack?”
Nicole Cisternas, from Educación 2020, said that “expelling the student and sending him to another school is a form of segregation, because you move the problem to somewhere else, without ensuring that there is a solution for anyone. It seems to us that the mere separation does not reconfigure the school climate. For example, the teacher who got sprayed with benzine, what psychosocial support is he receiving?”
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.