Instituto Nacional considers opening its doors to female students

SANTIAGO – The Instituto Nacional is considering whether to open its doors to female students. Many other Chilean schools are also studying this option or have already made the switch to being mixed-gender (also known as mixed-sex or co-ed). At present, single-sex schools account for only 4.1% of the total national enrollment figures.

The Instituto Nacional, one of Chile’s most renowned educational institutions, has announced that it will study whether to go from being an all-boys school to a mixed-gender one, and leave behind 200 years of history in that regard.

This Thursday, Mar. 21, the school plans to hold a meeting to discuss the matter. As reported by La Tercera, the Head of the school, Fernando Soto, referred to this meeting as a moment where they “seek to exchange ideas and points of view freely and transparently, so that later, at the end of the month, every person in the community decides.”

In the last week of March, the school community will have the final say by vote. The vote will be carried out at different levels of the institute, and, according to Soto, it will be a secret ballot by pencil and paper.

Not the only school

The Instituto Nacional is far from unique in considering mixed-gender education. For some time now, single-gender Chilean schools, whether traditional or not, private or state, have been making the switch to mixed-gender.

Another of the emblematic schools in Santiago, the Liceo José Victorino Lastarria, which for 105 years was an all-boys school, made news when it announced that this year 30 girls were entering its Kindergarten.

According to the Ministry of Education, single-gender schools have been left behind. Currently, they represent only 4.14% of the total enrollment in the country.

In addition, between 2014 and 2016, there was a 65% increase in mixed-gender schools in the country; and between 2013 and 2016, 253 private, subsidized and municipal establishments became mixed-gender.

La Tercera also reports that all-girls schools, such as the Liceo 1 Javiera Carrera and the Liceo 7 de Niñas, are studying the idea of accepting male students.

In a similar vein, as reported by T13, the Liceo de Aplicación will also be looking into the idea of leaving behind single-gender education, after their Head of School, Humberto Garrido, said that they were “open to making a consultation soon that covers all levels, including parents and students, and what the community says is what we are going to apply. We are going to see how the debate goes in the Instituto Nacional and when it is time we will talk about it.”

The need to be synchronized

Carlos Henríquez Calderón, executive secretary of the Agency of Quality of Education, states that they are “supporters of mixed spaces where boys and girls are fully developed and where all capacities are promoted within an equitable, symmetrical and non-discriminatory space.”

Consuelo Manosalba, Head of Education at Chile Today, and currently pursuing a doctorate in education, says that mixed-gender education is preferable because it “encourages inclusive, equal, and equitable teaching and the appreciation of diversity within a society. In this way we will be educating people with integral and fundamental values for the 21st century.”

Manosalba adds that gender-isolated education is being left behind because “within a few years in which the students finish their studies they will have to work in mixed environments, most likely their boss will be different from him or her, and for this reason acceptance and egalitarian work must be inculcated from basic education.”

René Barba Rondanelli, founder of the Bertait school and a postgraduate in education, agrees and told Chile Today that the presence of mixed-gender schools is necessary because “men and women in life have to constantly relate, so that it is good that this starts from kids.” At the same time, she explains that this idea of gender-mixed schools is due to the fact that it is necessary to deliver “certain values and behaviors that one must have, and the proper respect that each of the two sexes deserves.” She adds that “they are in different worlds, they converse differently, so they need to be synchronized.”

A possible law

In 2018, a group of parliamentarians presented a bill that would require public and private schools that receive State contributions to be mixed-gender.

Jaime Quintana, Yasna Provoste, Ximena Órdenes, and Juan Ignacio Latorre are the parliamentarians who lead this bill; and, according to Quintana as reported by El Ciudadano, this bill is being presented because “Chile is very different from 200 years ago,” when schools were single-gender, and “this is a discrimination that finds no sustenance in today’s society, where men and women must learn from school to relate as equals.”


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