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Bill extends free education to the 70% most vulnerable technical and vocational education students

The signing of the bill to extend free education to the 70% most vulnerable students attending technical training centers and professional institutes in Chile as of 2019 fulfills one of President Sebastián Piñera’s key campaign promises. It also recognizes that technical and vocational education is the real driving force in Chile. 

On Monday, President of Chile Sebastián Piñera signed a bill to expand free education coverage to 70% of the students who attend the technical training centers and professional institutes that meet the requirements set out in the Higher Education Law.

The benefit will go into effect next year and will cover 13,000 new students.In total, some 167,000 technical training center and professional institute students will study for free starting in 2019, at a total cost of 310 billion Chilean pesos per year. Six professional institutes and 7 technical training centers will participate.

Free higher education is here to stay, and there will be no profit in university higher education in our country. This is an issue that Chilean society has already discussed and settled, and it is also a commitment of our administration,” the President said during a ceremony at La Moneda Palace.

President Piñera highlighted the need to promote and support the development of technical and vocational higher education in Chile, which has a deficit of 600,000 workers. There are currently 511,000 students in professional institutes and technical training centers and they represent 43.5% of all the enrollments in Chilean higher education institutions.

The President added that technicians and professionals are the driving force in Chile and described the bill as recognition of and reparation for them, “recognition of the indispensable force for our development that our technicians and professionals represent. They are the force that drives Chile. It is also recognition of the importance of technical and vocational education for strengthening social mobility and the development of our middle classes. And it provides reparation because it addresses an injustice and the shortsightedness of our country.”

The government’s goal is to progressively reach a rate of 90% free technical and vocational education as economic growth and tax collection conditions allow.

The ceremony was attended by Interior and Public Security Minister Andrés Chadwick, Treasury Minister Felipe Larraín, Minister Secretary General of the Presidency Gonzalo Blumel, Minister Secretary General of the Government Cecilia Pérez, Education Minister Gerardo Varela, Labor Minister Nicolás Monckeberg, and Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker, as well as congressmen from various parties, including Senators Carolina Goic and Manuel José Ossandón.

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