Improvements in the quality of basic education: Chile's experience

Research reports and studies
July 2014
Joseph Wales, Ahmed Ali and Susan Nicolai, with Francisca Morales and Daniel Contreras
This case study has found that Chile’s progress in education quality has been driven by four factors. First, the political prioritisation of improvements in quality, brought about through a combination of popular demand and efforts to build political consensus. Second, a willingness to experiment with a range of quality-focused interventions, such as teaching– learning materials, curriculum reform and longer school days. Third, a strong focus on the professionalisation of teaching and greater investment in the teaching workforce. And finally, a substantial investment in the sector overall, matched by the more precise targeting of resources to disadvantaged students and communities. If Chile is to make further gains, it must now address the twin challenges of the continuing and large disparities in educational outcomes between socioeconomic groups and average learning levels that remain too low.

Despite these challenges, Chile’s experience can provide useful lessons for other countries on how to improve learning for primary school children systematically through, for example, the strategic use of national and international assessment tests, a commitment to quality-focused incremental improvements, greater engagement with the private sector and targeted investment over the long term.