Chile education budget passes in lower house

AP News
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Posted: Nov 28, 2011 8:26 PM
Chile education budget passes in lower house

The Chilean government's 2012 education budget won legislative approval Friday by a three-vote margin in the Chamber of Deputies.

The center-left opposition lined up against the measure, but the support of three independent deputies put the budget through on a 58-55 vote. The budget easily passed in the Senate last week when the center-left abstained from the vote.

Its passage was a blow to student groups that have been protesting for more than six months demanding Chile spend more to improve the public education system.

Opinion polls have said Chileans widely support the students' goals.

But President Sebastian Pinera's government has said it can't afford to meet all their demands. It proposed a budget of $11.6 billion for 2012, an increase of $350 million from the previous year, but agreed to boost spending to $12.1 billion.

University and high school students began taking to the streets in May calling for major changes to the education system, including free tuition, more funding and an increased state role in the sector. The sometimes violent protests paralyzed Chile's universities and secondary schools.