Chile is Latin America's best-performing market-driven economy. The main opportunities for British business can be found in the educational technology sector and increasingly in the corporate and e-learning sector.
Education ? Chile
Jolanta Polk, Commercial Section, Santiago, Chile
Last revised January 2010
Whereas every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this document is accurate, neither UK
Trade & Investment nor its parent Departments (the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Foreign &
Commonwealth Office), accept liability for any errors, omissions or misleading statements, and no warranty is given or
responsibility accepted as to the standing of any individual, firm, company or other organisation mentioned.
Published January 20101 by UK Trade & Investment.
Crown Copyright ©
Education ? Chile
Table of Contents
CHARACTERISTICS OF MARKET 5
KEY METHODS OF DOING BUSINESS 7
MORE DETAILED SECTOR REPORTS 7
CONTACT LISTS 8
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Education ? Chile
Latin America?s best-performing market-driven economy, Chile has a stable democracy which
has been dominated by a succession of centre-left coalition governments since the end of
Pinochet's military rule in 1990. The state institutions are effective and corruption is low.
In the last 5 years, interest in British education (especially school management, curricula and
educational technology has re-emerged. The British education system is seen in Chile as one of
the best in the world. This opinion is substantiated by the 200 scholarships granted in 2009
(out of a total of 770) by Becas Chile (www.becaschile.cl) to Chilean postgraduates for study at
The main areas of interest for Chilean graduates in the UK are:
? Economy, business administration and law
? Science and biotechnology
EDUCATION SYSTEM AND TRENDS
In 1980, Chile?s military government launched a market-based education reform. Its objective
was to promote greater efficiency through administrative decentralisation and open competition
between public and private schools. However, the system has been strongly criticised as one
centred mainly on quantitative (financial) outcomes rather than on the quality of the education
provided. . In the last three years both students and teachers have openly opposed the system
embarking on a number of strikes and winning some important concessions from the
government, including an increase in the state subsidy for public education. As a result, the
government began working on new legislation to replace the existing law, known as the
L.O.C.E. (Ley Orgánica Constitucional de Enseñanza or ?Organic Constitutional Law on
Education?) with a new General Law of Education. The bill is currently under discussion in
Congress. The new points included in the new bill are:
- Equal opportunities in education for all students, no matter what their social origin or
- The creation of a new supervisory body for education charged with defining the
curriculum, quality standards and evaluation of the different education sectors.
- Schools may be run only by entities dedicated exclusively to education
- The new law puts special importance on these characteristics of education: flexibility,
quality, universality, accountability, transparency and responsibility
Another important improvement in Chilean education is as a result of Chile?s economic growth
(especially high copper prices - Chile's main export) which has enabled the government to
substantially increase spending on educational investment, undertaking long-term projects such
as ICT equipment for schools, infrastructure improvements and the increase of state subsidy for
municipal schools. Today, Chile devotes 5 % of its GDP to education ? a significant increase
from 3.7% in the 90?s.
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Education ? Chile
The main opportunities for British business can be found in the educational technology sector
and increasingly in the corporate and e-learning sector.
Chilean GDP has been rising, the country is socially, politically and economically stable and
Chileans are technologically minded making their requirements from ITC in education more
demanding and sophisticated.
Chile has the highest per capita ICT penetration in Latin America. According to a 2008
international study (Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos, University of Navarra) figures are:
? Literacy rate 96%
? Per capital spend on ITC ? US$500
? 804 mobiles phones per 1,000 inhabitants
? 351 internet users per 1,000 inhabitants
? 242 computers per 1,000 inhabitants (1st in Latin America)
An important opportunity for software and hardware suppliers is the annual Catalogo en Red ?
a catalogue which advertises educational supplies for public schools launched for the first time
in 2009. British companies can participate in the catalogue only through a local partner. In
2009, four new British companies entered the market and where immediately included in the
catalogue permitting an increase in local sales.
The division between CDROM and Internet delivery is now shifting towards Internet although
many institutions - especially public ones - (given that they need hardcopy invoices) still prefer
the "real" thing so that they can physically demonstrate what they have purchased.
A second opportunity can be found in niche accreditation and training in areas such as
insurance, banking, technical (computer technology and skills) and hospitality and catering.
Increasingly, opportunities around adult learning exist in literacy and numeracy for people who
did not complete the formal levels of education but need certification of their skills to apply for
Thirdly, Special Needs Education has risen on the Government's agenda and the State subsidy
for integration projects has increased significantly.
Finally, the number of scholarships offered by the Chilean Government to post-graduate
students will increase in 2010 from 2,500 to 6,500. British Universities currently get some 25%
of post-grad students, making it the third choice for Chileans after USA and Spain. This kind of
opportunity should be explored by Universities.
UKTI publishes international business opportunities gathered by our network of British
Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates worldwide. These opportunities appear in the
Opportunities portlet on the relevant sector and country pages on the UKTI website. By setting
up a profile you can be alerted by email when relevant new opportunities are published. New or
updated alert profiles can be set in My Account on the website.
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Education ? Chile
CHARACTERISTICS OF MARKET
Chile?s basic education system comprises eight years of primary school (compulsory school-
leaving age is 16) plus four years of secondary school (non-compulsory).
By comparison to other developing countries, Chile is at a relatively advanced stage of access to
education: universal coverage at primary school level (6 to 13) was practically achieved in the
mid-sixties, whereas for pre-school, the enrolment rate is 32%. Secondary education (14-17)
reached 90% since the country?s return o democracy in the late 80?s. General literacy levels are
at 96% for both men and women.
Parents can choose what school their children attend. In total, there are eight thousand eight
hundred primary schools with more than two million students and three thousand four hundred
secondary schools with more than one million students.
The options are:
a. State schools (40.4% of enrolment)
These are managed by the municipalities who receive funding from the State and
complement it with their own funding according to local means. That is the reason why
some Municipal schools have excellent results and infrastructure (high income
Municipalities) while others lag behind (especially rural schools). Local governments
(around 300 in the country) are responsible for hiring academic and administrative staff.
The central Ministry retains regulatory control, quality assurance and major syllabus
settings and they also prepare the measuring systems for teacher performance.
b. Private schools subsidised by the government (51 % o enrolment).
They get a monthly grant based on enrolment and attendance records. Most of them
charge an additional fee. Many are run by religious corporations. The grant acts as a
powerful incentive for schools to develop strategies to improve student retention. Recently,
the grant has been increased depending on the type of school and students (rural, urban,
special needs etc).
c. Fully private schools (7%).
Fees vary from US$150 to US$1,200 a month. These include the schools of the Association
of British Schools, located mostly in Santiago and other larger cities.
d. Private technical vocational schools run by industrial groups (1.6%).
Most of them offer apprenticeships. The five areas of specialisation - commercial, industrial,
technical, agricultural and maritime - offer relatively low skills.
There are only a few reputable professional institutes although demand is growing, especially
due to the fact that the labour market is reaching saturation point for university graduates.
Recent reports by think-tanks and the government have indicated the need for certification in
areas such as tourism, mining, gastronomy and ICT, to mention only a few. At the moment, the
majority of workers in the aforementioned areas have no formal training but rather on-the-job.
There is therefore great scope for institutions offering professional skills and international
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Education ? Chile
Technical higher education.
Technical education is offered by private institutes and some universities. The length of courses
varies from one year up to three years. In most cases, students pursuing technical studies
come from low-income families and are unable to afford university fees which are much higher
and where careers last up to 6 ? 7 years (engineering and medicine).
Standards tend to be low and the sector requires a major overhaul, establishing minimum
standards of functioning, updating curricula, improving infrastructure and re-training staff.
Businesses and education experts have pointed out that the deficiencies of technical education
are responsible for the national shortage of qualified technicians which is holding back the
country?s industrial development.
In the nineties loans and scholarships were available only at the university level. However, in
2000 three thousand scholarships were offered for the first time to students of technical
A total of 63 universities and almost two hundred professional/technical institutes provide
higher education. University entrance used to be through the National University Entrance
Examination, (?Prueba de Aptitud Académica? or ?PAA?) which was changed to a more
advanced system known as the University Selection Test (?Prueba de Seleccion Universitaria? or
PSU) -, a multiple-choice test which aims to assess general ability, as well as specific knowledge
in different areas. Historically, pupils from private schools have tended to score much higher in
the PAA and PSU than those from state-supported ones. The admission fee to do the PSU is
costly for students belonging to the poorer areas of society (up to $28,000 Chilean Pesos or
around US$50). However, since 2006 all low-income students from municipal and subsidised
school get a State grant to cover their PSU fees.
Universities fall into two categories:
Established prior to 1981, these are generally the most prestigious and deliver education which,
at its best, reaches the highest international standards. Students at traditional institutions have
normally reached higher PSU scores than those at private universities. Academics with PhDs
also tend to concentrate at traditional institutions although salaries are lower than in private
universities. However, there are wide variations between universities (e.g. those from Santiago
are usually better than those from the provinces) and even between different departments in
the same university.
2) Private universities, set up from 1981 onwards.
The Pinochet government opened up higher education to private capital. In 1980, Chile had
eight universities, now it has nearly sixty. Forty of these private institutions with almost no
state support, except for some limited bonus funding tied to students with high PSU scores.
Private universities concentrate on a narrower range of subjects, usually those with lower
infrastructure costs (humanities), with basic sciences representing a small percentage of the
courses offered. Little or no research is done by the private universities although recently,
thanks to excellent economic results, several universities opened medical, biotechnology and
Students at both types of universities have to cover their fees. At US$400 - 1,000 per month,
tuition fees are equivalent to nearly half of Chile's average wage. Considering that the average
length of university courses is five years, fees are a costly blow to the families involved (often in
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Education ? Chile
addition to a mortgage) and thereby have played a major role in restricting entrance to the
children of higher-income families.
KEY METHODS OF DOING BUSINESS
Chile is a modern and sophisticated market and people tend to know their business as well as
UK counterparts. Chileans are usually well educated, often travel overseas and are well
acquainted with state of the art technologies. They keep informed not only of issues relevant to
their area but also politics, arts, etc.
Most schools, universities and institutes are based in Santiago but other Chilean cities such as
Viña del Mar, Temuco and Concepción have a similar structure to Santiago. Some of them are
quite affluent and would like to have the same kind of education as their Santiago counterparts.
Although many speak English it is always recommended that a British guest should take the
trouble of learning at least some basic Spanish as a form of courtesy.
Companies new to Chile normally need to establish some form of partnership with a Chilean
individual or company. It is essential to visit the market; face to face contact is vital to develop
business relationships. Support you local representative with information about your products
and respond to enquires.
Chileans recognise the quality of UK products and services and are well disposed to doing
business with the UK. The main concern for Chileans is the final price and the final benefit. It
is also extremely important that UK companies are able to offer guarantees, good service and
technical support for equipment.
Other background information on doing business in Chile can be found on UKTI?s website.
Simply go to the Chile country page where you will find information on:
? Economic background and geography
? Customs & regulations
? Selling & communications
? Contacts & setting up
? Visiting and social hints and tips
MORE DETAILED SECTOR REPORTS
Research is critical when considering new markets. UKTI provides market research services
which can help UK companies doing business overseas including:
? Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS). Bespoke research into potential
markets, contacts and support during your visits overseas.
? Export Marketing Research Scheme. Advice on market research and help to
contact subsidised market research administered by the British Chambers of Commerce
on behalf of UKTI.
Contact your local International Trade Advisor if you are interested in accessing these services,
or for general advice in developing your export strategy.
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Education ? Chile
? Salon de Education ? September of each year. General education trade fair.
? Feria de Tecnologia Educacional Colina ? November of each year. Focus on the latest
ICT development for schools.
? Expo Ingles ? April or May of each year. English language training fair
UK Trade & Investment?s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) can help eligible UK businesses
take part in overseas exhibitions. Attendance at TAP events offers significant benefits:
? possibilities for business opportunities both at the show and in the future
? a chance to assess new markets and develop useful contacts
? grants are available if you meet the criteria
? UKTI staff overseas will be available to assist delegates
Find out if you are eligible to apply to attend this event, and more about the support UKTI can
offer, on the UKTI Market Entry web page.
Details of TAP events can be found in the Events portal on the Chile page.
Other Market Visit Support may be available via your local International Trade Advisor.
British Embassy, Santiago
Direct telephone: +56 2 370 4178
Fax: +56 2 370 4180
Telephone: +56 2 410 6900
UKTI?s International Trade Advisers can provide you with essential and impartial advice on
all aspects of international trade. Every UK region also has dedicated sector specialists who can
provide advice tailored to your industry. You can trace your nearest advisor by entering your
postcode into the Local Office Database on the homepage of our website.
For new and inexperienced exporters, our Passport to Export process will take you through the
mechanics of exporting. An International Trade Adviser will provide professional advice on a
range of services, including financial subsidies, export documentation, contacts in overseas
markets, overseas visits, translating marketing material, e-commerce, subsidised export training
and market research.
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