Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chilean School System

The one thing is Chile that continues to frustrate me! The Chilean school system is so different from Canada I don't know if I could ever understand it or will ever agree with it. But that's just cultural difference.
I'll give you a break down:

Colegio (College)
From Pre-Kinder to 4 Medio (Pre-Kindergarten - grade 12). You're in the same curso (class) for every class with the same kids. In the older grades you have some elective class, whether you choose to go into the Science/math stream or the humanities where you just have extra classes of the same subject on top of the standard class (ex. extra chemistry class). There aren't elective classes to specialize in something you enjoy/want to pursue in the future. Also all classes are at the same level, no College/University difference.

Colegio's are either public, private, or a mix. The schools differ a lot, especially seing and hearing about every exchange students school, it's interesting so see what social-class everyone is in. So you have to pay for your child to have a decent basic education.

Classes in colegio can be utterly craziness at times! There have been so many moments in which the idea of the teacher is the room was pointless. From my experience the teachers don't seem to have lesson plans most of the time, I don't know how some of the kids can learn if no material is given in class. Also I've noticed that some kids buy extra textbooks to learn from (ex. my biology elective class). The respect-level for the teachers are almost non-existent at times when kids talk over the teacher and do their own thing whether answering their cell phones, painting nails, putting stickers all over the room (I'm guilty!), or whatever!

The big dreaded PSU... the Chilean version of the USA's SAT test. This standardized test focuses on Language and Math. This is the biggest thing is a Chilean teenagers life, especially in 4 Medio. The score on the PSU determines what University one can get into, especially if they want to go to the good, less-expensive public Universities. They have PSU practice tests in colegio (once I had to do... the second time I didn't bother!) and there's so much pressure to constantly study, which brings me to the next stage...

Preuniversitario (Pre-University)
I loath these institutions this year as they have stolen all of my friends! In order to get a "better score" on the PSU most of the 4 Medio population attend preuniversitarios. On-top of a school day from 8 am - 3 pm the students go to another 2-3 hours of extra classes focusing on the PSU subjects and don't get home until 7 pm or so. Again you have to pay extra for these institutions so not every family can afford it, and they run from April-December when the PSU is. My opinion is that honestly it's quite silly to have these institutions when your still studying and learning in school, why not just learn there!

La U - Universidad (University)
There are two types of Universities - Public (Universidad de Chile, U de Catolica, U de Santiago, etc.) or Private. In order to get into a Public university you need to have a high score on the PSU, but to get into a Private university money is more of a factor. Student Residences and what Canadians would call "University-life" don't exist. They have sports teams but there's no student clubs or culture outside of classes. I've never been to a University class but I have heard they're much like colegio (but more organized), no grand lecture halls that you would find in Canada. The students seem to be at school all day as well, no only 2 hours of class a day.

Overall I'm still not a fan of the Chilean school system, I'm pretty happy to have the opportunity of a Canadian education and am actually quite excited to finally getting out of "high school" and into University this fall!

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