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Chilean students rejects gov't reform proposal

(Xinhua)

15:50, September 17, 2011

SANTIAGO, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chilean student leaders Friday rejected a government reform proposal aimed at ending violent protests against the country's education system, according to the Confederation of University Students of Chile (Confech).

Francisco Figueroa, a Confech spokesman, said they would stage new nationwide protests on Sept. 22 because the reform proposal failed to address their concerns and was an attempt to weaken the student movement.

"The government has made their bet that the student movement is weakened but that is not the case and this movement still has the capacity to remain standing," he said.

Figueroa said the government had "reconfirmed its intransigence" toward the students by dropping dialogue to end the protests, saying the government's offer to them had been "very minimal".

Figueroa also confirmed a work stoppage will be held on Sept. 29 across the country.

Over 100,000 students in Chile have marched since early May to press President Sebastian Pinera to increase public spending on higher education and remove public funds earmarked for profit-seeking institutions of higher learning.

Chilean Education Minister Felipe Bulnes, however, denied the government had suggested the student movements were weakened and said the government keeps the door open for dialogues.

Bulnes said the government had accepted half of the students' demands and had been trying to communicate with the protestors, but the students' logic of getting "everything or nothing" would never lead to any realistic outcome.

The Chilean government had accepted the students' demand for complete transparency in negotiations between the authorities, students and professors and a guarantee that profit-seeking private universities will no longer receive public funds, the minister added.

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