SANTIAGO – The PSU exams, that take place in high schools across Chile today, have been heavily affected by student demonstrations. Several schools had to suspend the exams that play a decisive role in the future of Chilean students. For weeks, students called for a boycott of the PSU, which they consider a sorry example of the country’s inequality.
In high schools across Chile, the national PSU exams were suspended after students blocked entrances, occupied classrooms, and even stole the exams. Students announced in the days ahead of the exams that they would demonstrate against the exams that have such a big influence on the chances of getting into a good university in the country.
Main reasons for the protests are the fact that these exams weigh so heavily in students’ futures, especially because students from higher socioeconomic strata and private schools get better preparation, thus better results. The best universities therefore remain for the students whose parents can pay for it, protesters argue. They say that the PSU is a perfect example of the unequal system in Chile.
PSU Protests Across Chile
In Santiago alone, the PSU was suspended in at least 15 schools due to the protests. Some schools had to suspend exams due to protests outside the schools, while others had the exam halls occupied. At most schools, however, police forces were present to avoid disturbances and prevent protesters from entering school buildings.
In the Valparaíso region, at least five schools suspended their PSU exams due to disturbances. In both Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, students managed to steal exams and set them on fire outside the building. In Valparaíso, students also threw chairs from classrooms.
ENCAPUCHADOS, LANZAN MOBILIARIO y CORTAN el paso a los ESTUDIANTES que QUIEREN RENDIR la PSU en “Local Alternativo”, casa Central Univerdidad sta Maria pic.twitter.com/yl562ewmPu
— Elizabeth (@BertRiff007) January 6, 2020
Further north, in cities like Iquique, Calama, and Copiapó the exams had to be suspended, too. In Iquique alone, five schools stopped the exams after students started to protest, while in Calama over 20 students were arrested when protests turned violent. In Copiapó, two schools were already occupied by students on Sunday, causing authorities to suspend the exams there early in the day.
In the south, in Concepción and cities like Hualpén and Talcahuano, several demonstrations took place. At least six schools there suspended the exams. In Chiguayante and Yumbel, police forces managed to prevent protesters from entering the school.
En liceo municipal Luis Saldes de Yumbel también se suspendió la #PSU establecimiento estaba tomado. Actuó carabineros pero prueba se suspendió igual pic.twitter.com/2qPPbg7Sb7
— TVU Noticias (@TVUNoticias) January 6, 2020
In Valdivia, the police clashed with protesters outside a school, as the protesters were performing cacerolazos (banging pots and pans with spoons) during the exams, while in Los Angeles police arrested at least eight protesters, among them five adults, when they tried to occupy a school. In Puerto Montt, eight people were arrested when they protested inside the schools.
As a result of today’s protests, several thousand students across the country were not able to take the PSU. When and if there will be a makeup day is unclear.
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.