A hard blow to the students. The Ministry of Education (Mineduc) reported that around seven educational establishments have been affected by the forest fires that started on February 2 and caused damage in the regions of Valparaíso, O'Higgins, Maule, Biobío and La Araucanía. The damage caused by this disaster would harm more than 1,000 students, a significant number when considering the existing population in the Valparaíso region, which was the most affected.
This catastrophic event was classified as one of the worst in the history of Chile. The official figure of the Legal Medical Service reaches 131 people who have died to date, with the possibility of increasing due to the fact that there are people who are missing. The educational sector is among the most affected, in the context that classes in the southern country will begin on Monday, March 4 of this year.
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The educational sector was affected by the forest fires in Chile
La República contacted Victor Birkner, a Chilean teacher with an academic degree of doctor in Education from the University of Exeter, in England. Currently, he works as a researcher at the Silva Henríquez Catholic University in Chile. With a career of more than 25 years, he taught in primary and secondary schools, later in universities.
“The forest fires have affected in various ways: economically, emotionally and socially. There are seven schools that were completely destroyed. Valparaíso is a commune in the Fifth Region, which is very small. When we decided that there are more than 1,000 students affected, We are talking about a significant figure,” said the Chilean teacher.
The Mineduc reported that seven educational institutions have suffered damage after the forest fires that occurred in Chile. The situation involves an average of 1,056 students who are less than a month away from starting classes. The affected educational institutions are the following:
Villa Independencia School: 258 students (Viña del Mar) Enrique Cárdenas School: 201 students (Viña del Mar) John Kennedy School: 185 students (Viña del Mar) Canal Beagle School: 144 students (Viña del Mar) 21 de Mayo School: 130 students (Viña del Mar)Mi Dulce Villa Kindergarten: 30 (Viña del Mar)El Patagual School: 108 students (Villa Alemana) The Enrique Cardenas school was one of those affected by the forest fires in Chile. Photo: I am Chile
Education in Chile must continue: actions that are being adopted
The Government of Chile and other public and private entities have decided to take actions to mitigate the damage caused by forest fires. We will seek to implement emergency measures to temporarily enable infrastructure, as well as refer students to other institutions that have the appropriate infrastructure to start classes. Despite the difficult situation, classes are scheduled to begin during the first days of March and there is no official statement about a possible postponement.
“There are concrete actions that are being implemented. The Catholic University of Valparaíso, which is a very important university in the Fifth Region, has committed to providing guidance to schools to support the psychological aspect. They have decided to support the entire educational community through a program, in which teachers are included. Teachers also suffer when we lose students,” said the teacher.
On the other hand, the Mineduc has arranged a total of 14 educational establishments as collection points or shelters in the Valparaíso region, which have been delivering food and clothing. Likewise, they have donated around 8,000 books so that the libraries of the razed institutions can be rebuilt.
Students from the 21 de Mayo School, one of those affected by the forest fires. Photo: Schools of Chile
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The forest fires coincided with the death of former president Sebastián Piñera
The death of former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera caused great shock in the southern country. The Chilean press and international media began to give great coverage to what happened to the former president. Situation that, in some way, would end up leaving what was caused by the forest fires in the background.
“This negative event was overshadowed by the death of Piñera. The press moved the focus of attention from Valparaíso to Santiago, where there were several days of mourning. Everything that affected those schools (and Valparaíso in general) seems to have been left in the forgotten. There are people who are complaining, the students, for the most part, are from vulnerable families. The same attention has not been returned,” said the professor.
Despite this, the actions that have been taken to avoid harming students have continued and classes are scheduled to take place as established by the 2024 school calendar.