Education reforms and its impact on the educational experiences of recently arrived Black immigrant students in Chile


The objective of my project is to understand the educational experiences of recently arrived immigrants who identify as Black in Chile. The phenomenon of my interest is very resent; thus the literature has not yet captured in depth the experiences of this population. Most of the literature about immigrant students in Chile has focused on the experiences of Peruvian and Bolivian students because their presence in Chile dates from the beginning of this century. Some studies narrate the experiences of grownups navigating the Chilean society. Finally, much attention has been placed on the immigration model that Chile has adopted. However, the approach that I took is relevant because in the last four years the immigrant population has increased and diversified significantly in Chile. According to the census data from 2017, 61% of the immigrant population living in Chile arrived after 2014 and came from a more diverse range of countries that included Colombia (14.1%) and Haiti (8.4%). To achieve the goal of my research I conducted 26 in-depth interviews that lasted one hour on average. I visited two schools, a charter and a traditional public school, and I was able to conclude that schools are only receiving administrative support to receive immigrant students. They only receive guidance about enrollment and on how to add students to the system in order to receive the governmental funding to educate immigrant students. However, schools do not receive any guidance on how to support immigrant socially and academically. Discrimination and racism against black students were present on both schools, but mostly in forms of microaggressions and in indirect ways. Conducting this research was very demanding and challenging. Entering the school space and gaining the trust of the participants to talk about sensitive issues such as racism, discrimination, and social exclusion was not easy for many reasons. First, such topics are not openly discussed in Chile. Second, time is a very scarce resource at the school level, especially for teachers, principals, and other school administrators. Finally, I arrived in Chile one week before a national strike of teachers paralyzed the whole public education system for 50 days. However, regardless of the challenges, I was able to conduct the interviews and visit the schools for one week.

María Eugenia Rojas
Publication date: 
August 23, 2019
Publication type: 
Student Research