Thursday, 29 December 2011

Chile: Bilingual Intercultural Education

Bilingual Intercultural Education (EIB), is a proposition taken by the Chilean government in 1993 that serves as the foundation for a demand of indigenous peoples, and particularly Mapuche people, in educational programs. Today this scheme can find support in the General Education Law and Supreme Decree 280 of the Ministry of Education.

However, the experience from the Bilingual Intercultural Education in the metropolitan region has emerged thanks to the continuance and efforts of traditional educators, and thus, as it is not yet being recognized institutionally, traditional educators have been victims of discrimination and strong racism. This is noted for example from lack of budget allocation for the development of the EIB, to racist actions from the own State institutions in charge of education such as the Municipal Corporations of Education and moreover from schools’ principals.

This month a traditional educator Pamela Huichalao Cona, a staff from the School Paulo Freire, situated in the Commune of Cerro Navia, Chile has had to seek ‘recurso de amparo’ (‘writ of protection’) before the Court of Appeals of Santiago against the City Council of Cerro Navia represented by its Mayor and Councilor of the same community. The defendant party appears to have participated in constant acts of racist and xenophobic persecution - even threaten individual liberty and individual security. The reason being that the defendant aims to make the traditional educator to desist promoting and defending indigenous languages and cultures in the community and quit the EIB program that is taking place in the mentioned school.

For those of you not familiar with the writ of protection (recurso de amparo), this is a remedy quite common in jurisdiction from South America for the protection of constitutional rights- this action is used not only for habeas corpus but also for the protection of individual rights.

Added to this, Miss Pamela together with more than a hundred community members and educators attended the Presidential palace in order to put to the attention of Chile's President Mr Sebastián Piñera, a series of events raised in recent months in relation to racism and discrimination that Indigenous Peoples are suffering and are victims of. The letter left to the President noted that this is a “serious cultural and social problem that deserves to be approached from public policy and which call on your government to adopt relevant policies in this area.” It also mentioned that intercultural education should not only be aimed at Indian students, but to everyone so as to make aware the new generations to cultures, principles and philosophy of indigenous peoples.

The information started to remind the readers [I guess making their point stronger and making clear to Mr Sebastian Piñera] that Chile has ratified many international treaties and thus having the duty to respect and guarantee human rights and moreover those of indigenous peoples. Some of these Treaties are: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention No. 169, American Convention on Human Rights and the Covenants on Human Rights at the United Nations Organization of 1966.

I would like to point out the information that the Minister of Education gives in its webpage as part of a very simple explanation regarding the details that the General Education Law has. It mentions that the law establishes an institutional framework for school education which, among other things:
  • Promote and respect the diversity of methods and school projects, as well as cultural, religious and social learners.
  • Propose the inclusion of students from different social, ethnic, religious, economic and cultural rights.
  • Last but not least it noted that the educative system must recognize and value persons in regards to its culture and origin, and taking into account their language, worldview and history.
I believe therefore that the President does not need to look further than its own national legislation motto.

Source Informatico Mapuche manuexpress.

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