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Ministry of Education

Marco Antonio Ávila Lavanal

EDUCATION MINISTER

Marco Antonio Ávila Lavanal is a Spanish language teacher with undergraduate and master’s degrees in education, specializing in curriculum and pedagogical innovation. He also has graduate studies in governance, public policy, and educational leadership.

Since 2001, he has been a secondary school teacher of language and communication and is head of the Secondary School Teaching Unit (UTP) at Fundación Belén Educa. As a classroom teacher, he earned the Pedagogical Excellence Designation and was a member of the Red de Maestros de Maestros (Teachers of Teachers Network). In 2007, he was chosen as one of Revista Sabado magazine’s 100 leaders, as a representative of the educational sphere.

From 2008 to 2012, he served as educational improvement advisor to Fundación Chile’s Mejor Escuela (Better Schools) program. In 2013- 2015, he was director of Escuela Básica Emprender in the Puente Alto municipality. During this time, he was awarded a fellowship by the Education Ministry’s Directors of Excellence Program to study Educational Leadership at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto (Canada).

From 2015 to 2018, he served as vice-coordinator, then national coordinator, of secondary education in the Education Ministry’s General Educational Division.

In 2019, Minister Díaz joined Fundación Chile’s School Improvement Team as head of school improvement projects. 

He has been an active member of the Revolución Democrática party since 2015. He was responsible for the creation of the party’s education committee in 2017 and has been coordinator of the education committee since 2020. 

From April 2021 onward, he was responsible as party representative for the education platform of President Boric’s candidacy, and then provided support to the Plan de Gobierno team until the election.

He was born in the San Miguel municipality to his parents, Marta and Enrique. He enjoys reading books on philosophy and politics, as well as historical biographies. His playlist always includes Aretha Franklin, Jorge Drexler, and Santa Feria.

Nicolás Cataldo Astorga's portrait

Nicolás Cataldo Astorga

EDUCATION UNDERSECRETARY

A history and social science teacher who graduated from the Universidad de Valparaíso, Undersecretary Cataldo attended Escuela E-282 primary school and Liceo Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna secondary school, both in Viña del Mar, then finished his secondary studies at Liceo Eduardo de la Barra in Valparaíso.

He was a student leader in both secondary school and university, becoming a member of the Universidad de Valparaíso Student Federation. He has been an active member of the Partido Comunista (PC) since 1998.

Professionally, he has focused on public policy design and legislative procedure as a public servant at both the local and national level.

From 2010 to 2013, he was a technical advisor in the Education and Professional Development Department of the Colegio de Profesores de Chile A.G. (Chilean College of Teachers) and sat on the editorial board of the educational journal Revista Docencia.

In 2013, he served as legislative consultant on education to PC congressional deputies, and in 2014 became chief of staff and legislative advisor on education to then-congressional deputy Camila Vallejo.

From 2015 to 2018, he worked on the Education Ministry’s legislative team, involved in advancing legislation for Educational Reform initiatives, including the creation of the Teacher Professional Development System, the New Public Education, Higher Education, and Retirement Incentive laws, and as project leader for the Statute on Educational Assistants.

Undersecretary Cataldo has also been active at the local level. In 2018, after the enactment of Law 21.040, establishing the new Public Education System, he worked on the implementation of one of the first local public education services, the Barrancas Local Education Service, which encompasses the Cerro Navia, Lo Prado, and Pudahuel municipalities.

Subsequently, until January 2022, he served as chief of staff at the Cerro Navia municipality.

He is the father of Salvador and Matilde and partner of Danae.

He is a lover of music, where his interests range from the Beatles to Inti Illimani; of soccer, as a fan of Santiago Morning; of books, including historic novels and sagas such as “The Lord of the Rings”; and of comics, cinema, and history.

María Isabel Díaz's portrait

María Isabel Díaz

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION UNDERSECRETARY

Undersecretary Díaz is an early childhood educator who graduated from the Universidad de Chile, with a master’s in education from the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación and a doctorate in education from the Universidad de Granada (Spain). She is an expert in public policy design and curriculum development, with extensive related public sector experience, specifically in education (25 years). She served as Chile’s first Early Childhood Education undersecretary (2015-2018), overseeing the launch of this new public service and directing the early childhood line of educational reform in three strategic focal areas: institutional framework, broader coverage, and improving quality.

In her professional career, she has been responsible for designing national curricular benchmarks for students and teachers in different areas. She has extensive experience in initial and ongoing teacher training.

She has served as a teacher and director of pedagogical programs and as a consultant in Chile and abroad in the areas of curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy. She has directed national curriculum implementation projects in Chile.

She has been a consultant for teacher evaluation and quality assurance models. She has formulated national guidelines for adapted curricula in preschool, primary, and secondary education. She also led the process to formulate a new official early childhood curriculum for Chile. Early in her career, she was a classroom teacher in both public and private schools.

She has authored a series of publications for UNESCO, OEI, UNICEF, and other organizations and presented papers in Chile and internationally (OECD/Paris). In 2019-2020, she served as the European Union’s principal international technical expert on preschool and primary education in Paraguay.

From 2018 to 2021, she served in several capacities, as a rapporteur, consultant, and permanent technical expert, working with educational establishments and research centers on curricular matters and education regulations. She was coordinator of the Education Program at Instituto Igualdad.

She is also the author and co-author of books published by Catalonia, Editorial SM Chile, UNESCO, and OEI.

She is an active participant in educational debates and an advisor on educational and early childhood matters to legislators and constitutional convention delegates. Her personal interests include dance, yoga, and sports. She was a volleyball team member in secondary school and at university. She collects owl figurines from around the world and likes hiking in the city.

 

Verónica Figueroa Huencho's portrait

Verónica Figueroa Huencho

HIGHER EDUCATION UNDERSECRETARY

Undersecretary Figueroa has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the Universidad de Chile and has a doctorate in administrative sciences from ESADE-Universitat Ramón Llull (Spain), and a post-doc from the Center for Latin American Studies at Stanford University (USA). She has been a visiting scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University (USA).

She has researched and published papers on governance in intercultural contexts and indigenous public policy design and implementation, leading FONDECYT and similar projects in this area. She served on the senate of her university as a representative of the Universidad de Chile’s interdisciplinary institutes for the 2018-2022 term. In 2020, she became the first woman and person of Mapuche origin to serve as vice president of the Universidad de Chile Senate and was reelected for a second term. She has served as coordinator of the United Nations Global Compact, based in Barcelona (2004-2006), director of the Universidad de Chile’s School of Government and Public Management (2013-2015), coordinator of the Curricular Modernization Committee in the Universidad de Chile’s Public Administration program, and coordinator of the committee to support the creation of a Public Administration program at the Universidad de O’Higgins.

She has been a member and chair of different committees on sexual harassment and violence at the university, and others related to the promotion of indigenous rights. She has been a university lecturer, a tutor in the PACE and SIPEE equitable access programs, and a mentor for women and indigenous women leaders, teaching courses, workshops, and seminars on intercultural understanding and social harmony in contexts of diversity.