EL GOBIERNO CHILENO ha emprendido una serie de medidas educativas para la enseñanza universal del inglés con el objetivo de que en el plazo de una generación la población del país sea bilingüe:
Chile already has the most open, market-friendly economy in Latin America, and the language plan is seen as advancing that process. The government has negotiated free trade agreements with the United States, Canada, the European Union and South Korea in recent years, is in talks with New Zealand and Singapore, and this fall was host to the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, with President Bush among the leaders of 21 nations in attendance.Hay muy pocas voces críticas, entre ellas (cómo no) la del Foro Social Chileno. Pero el enfoque del gobierno chileno es más que correcto:
"We have some of the most advanced commercial accords in the world, but that is not enough," Sergio Bitar, the minister of education, said in an interview here. "We know our lives are linked more than ever to an international presence, and if you can't speak English, you can't sell and you can't learn."
The initial phase of the 18-month-old program, officially known as "English Opens Doors," calls for all Chilean elementary and high school students to be able to pass a standardized listening and reading test a decade from now. But the more ambitious long-term goal is to make all 15 million of Chile's people fluent in English within a generation.
"It took the Swedes 40 years" to get to that point, said Mr. Bitar, adding that he sees the Nordic countries and Southeast Asian nations like Malaysia as models for Chile. "It's going to take us decades too, but we're on the right track."
Only a very small number of groups have opposed the program on ideological grounds.Vamos, como aquí.
"We're quite worried about this because it takes an economic hegemony and translates it into a cultural hegemony," said Sara Larraín, a leader of the Chilean Social Forum, a coalition opposed to corporate-led globalization. "Chile's insertion ought to be into the world at large, not into the U.S. empire. These are not Roman times, when Latin was the universal language."
But the Chilean government has presented the English initiative as an eminently democratic measure, in Mr. Bitar's words "an instrument of equality for all children" in Chile. That argument seems to resonate deeply with working-class families eager to see their children prosper in an increasingly competitive and demanding job market.
"This kind of program didn't exist when I was in school, which meant that only the rich kids in the private schools got to study English," said Fabiola Coli, whose daughter is now learning English at the Benjamin Vicuña MacKenna Elementary School here. "If you couldn't afford to pay, and I couldn't, you were left out. This is better because everyone can benefit."