Chilean Highschoolers Set Fire to Buses, Start Riots

High School students in Chile set a school principal’s office on fire, burned city buses, and clashed with police in a violent protest over claims of expensive but inferior quality of education. 

According to reports, students protesting angrily over “expensive and poor-quality school and university education have become more frequent.” 

Chile’s Education Superintendent said there was a 56% surge in violent incidents in the last semester compared to previous pre-pandemic years. 

“After these two years, they chafe more with authority and discipline. There’s a rejection of authority figures,” said high school teacher Esteban Abarca. 

“It’s not comfortable for anyone to be in class when they’re burning things or attacking the principal,” Abarca added. 

According to experts, pandemic-related behavior issues contributed to the worsening of students’ behavior. 

“We haven’t seen anything elsewhere as drastic or dramatic as here,” UNICEF Chile education officer Francisca Morales said, adding that the main impact of the pandemic had been on teens and preteens returning to school after going through puberty in isolation. 

Chilean history recorded students’ protests in the 70s and 80s against the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.  

In 2006 and 2011, President Gabriel Boric, at that time a student, led demonstrations for education reforms. 

In 2019, widespread protests saw months of rioting, including burning churches and metro stations. 

“The problems that occur in school communities are a reflection of the problems we have as a society,” Education Minister Antonio Avila said. 


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