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Chilean students pledge to continue protests against education budget

(Xinhua)

15:33, November 28, 2011

SANTIAGO, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chilean student groups vowed on Sunday to continue their mass-scale protests against the government's 2012 education budget.

Chile's main student confederation Confech said it was very disappointed with the government's final budget for 2012 approved by the conservative-dominated Senate without increasing funds for education as the students had demanded.

"Unfortunately the political system did not meet our demands, and the government made the budget the way they wanted without even considering the proposals we made," said Confech's spokesman Noam Titelman.

Over 100,000 middle school and college students supported by university professors and many of the general public have been involved in more than 42 protests since May against what they called poor budget funding for higher education and a lack of will to change the policies.

"We expect that during the coming year we will be able to gather more support to help bring about the deep changes we need," said Titelman.

After a marathon session, Chile's Senate approved late on Friday a national budget worth 11.5 billion dollars, with an 8-percent increase from the 2011 budget, including a 60-percent rise in education funds, according to lawmakers.

The Chilean government rejected the latest protest as unnecessary. Spokesman Andres Chawick said lawmakers were holding intense discussions about the student's appeal.

Education Minister Felipe Bulnes met last week with opposition congress members to discuss possible education reforms. The opposition rejected the education fund in the 2012 budget, saying it was not enough to resolve the actual crisis in the education sector.

Students, especially those from middle schools, were also dissatisfied with the government's plan, saying it only covered the university sector.

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