March 1, 2017 Print

The future prosperity of any country depends on educating a new generation of leaders in the principles of freedom, sound economics, and good citizenship. Instituto Res Publica (IRP), an Atlas Network partner based in Chile, aims to foster young leaders through its ongoing citizen training courses and other educational activities. A recent IRP course brought Chilean Duoc UC college students to Spain, where they spent two weeks meeting with current and former public officials and representatives of civil society, including José Varela Ortega, chairman of the Ortega y Gasset Foundation, an organization named after the classical liberal Spanish philosopher.

“I am sure that this is a milestone that marks a beginning,” said Ricardo Paredes, Duoc UC rector, (translated from Spanish). “We want more and more students of ours to undergo training and improvement. I am sure that the future of Chile will be transformed by the professional technical sector.”

IRP holds its citizen training workshops in seven regions of Chile, including Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena, Santiago, Talca, Concepción and Puerto Montt, bringing the young people in each area the tools to bild a better society.

These workshops are only part of the organization’s focus on educating young people in Chile. Earlier in 2016, IRP released a book titled Education: A Pending Transformation — Penguins, Skates, and Gratuity, which advocates for education reform in Chile. Its author, Julio Isamit, who formerly headed the think tank ChileSiempre, makes a strong case for school choice.

Only a few years ago, the Chilean economy was still considered a shining star not only Latin America, but in the broader developed world. That has begun to change in recent years as leftist ideology increasingly influences government policy. The Chilean system of privatized education met with widespread student protests during the Penguin Revolution of 2006, involving nearly 800,000 protesters who called for lower school costs. Their demands ultimately brought Chilean education back under government control, with ongoing calls for still greater subsidy and socialization. Isamit’s book is a powerful argument against this worrying trend.

IRP toured the book as part of its “Education for Chile” campaign, holding six different presentations and discussion forums. Of the 300 participants in these book program, many of those in attendance were students directly affected by Chile’s increasingly socialist education policies.

Other notable figures in attendance included Raul Figueroa, founder and executive director of Acción Educar, another Santiago think tank that specializes in education policy; and two Chilean congressmen from the Education Committee, Sen. Andrés Allamand and Deputy Jaime Bellolio. They praised the book and its young author in front of a forum of 130 people, while also stressing that students who support school choice must have a platform by which they can educate others about education policy in Chile.