Enabling democratic rights of Indigenous and immigrant students in Chilean schools through initial teacher education and professional standards

Year: 2019

Author: Tapia, Carla, Whatman, Sue

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Chile has symbolically embraced multi-culturalism since the end of the dictatorship in 1990, where Chileans returned from exile and immigrants became interested in a country that could offer new opportunities to the international market (Lara, 2014). Chile also has a significant Indigenous population, with nine recognised groups each with different dialects and customs (Ministry of Planning and Cooperation, 2017). Despite claims though that Chile is already multi-cultural, governmental policies and programs focusing on Indigenous education have only recently been developed and implemented (Becerra-Lubies & Fones, 2016).

According to Baeza (2019), Chilean National Standards place little emphasis on demonstrating understanding about Intercultural and Indigenous contexts, as students’ cultural background and ethnicity is considered part of a “common diversity” (Ministry of Education of Chile, 2016, p.5). There is no specific standard regarding the capability to teach in Indigenous or intercultural contexts. The majority of teachers are women, belong to the hegemonic culture and speak only Spanish.They may have limited knowledge about the different Indigenous groups or immigrant backgrounds of students (Sanhueza, Friz, & Quintriqueo, 2014) and they receive limited preparation related to Intercultural and Bilingual (IBE) schools in Chile (Becerra-Lubies & Fones, 2016) or Intercultural Education in general (Sanhueza et al., 2014). Furthermore, it is inexperienced teachers and/or teachers with lower achievement in their own exit exams who work in more disadvantaged areas where Indigenous and immigrants students can be found in greater numbers (Meckes & Bascopé, 2012). These factors combine to create teaching and learning experiences which do not respond to the students’ specific requirements nor unlock access to the kinds of privileging knowledges that the students need in globalised schooling times (Singh, 2015).

This paper explores the conceptual relationship between Chilean educational policy and the initial teacher education conditions underpinning teaching and learning contexts for Indigenous and immigrant students in schools. This critique zooms in on hegemonic pedagogic discourses of initial teacher education, which we argue have been shaped by policy, practices and a workforce which assume and (re)design education for an undemocratic. homogenous, monocultural society. Bernstein’s (1990) social reproduction of pedagogic discourse is employed to theorise the translation of international understandings of ‘how you do’ schooling in Chile via education policy and initial teacher education and offers insights into how and where the changing context of Chilean student body and their democratic rights to an education which affirms their culture can be recognised with points of agency and control.