Escuela Epu Klei: Money is Not Everything

Kindergarten classroom in Epu Klei

       In Chile, private schools have all the attention. Parents try to place their kids into a private school. Private schools can implement various activities as they see fit. Private schools have funds. Teachers seek to work in private schools since they have higher salaries. Private schools employ higher quality teachers.

      Public schools in Chile are a complete opposite. They struggle. They are poor. They serve the underserved. They lack funds. They tend to have lower quality teachers.

       During my time in Chile, I have visited a total of 10 schools (for now). As with anything in life, there are always things that are great, and things that need work. And then came Escuela Epu Klei in a small village of Lican Ray.

What fascinated me about Escuela Epu Klei in Lican Ray was the following:

  • the classrooms were beautiful and very creatively decorated,

  • teachers cared about their students,

  • teachers took pride in what they do,

  • teachers went above and beyond to create learning environment conducive to learning,

  • the school was clean and organized,

  • student work was everywhere,

  • both teachers and administration were extremely welcoming.

        Right away I jumped to a conclusion -->

'This is a private school.'

       Much to my surprise, it was a PUBLIC school and I was floored. In Chile, private schools have funds to invest in their students, staff, and initiatives. Parents pay tuition, and schools use these monies for learning, assessing, and other things. Private schools look, and feel PRIVATE.

In public schools the situation is different: they often struggle trying to find money for supplies, materials, and so on.

        Escuela Epu Klei in Lican Ray was a small school that simply managed with the funds it had and was doing a great job.

Creativity, professional effort, and motivation of its teachers was evident.

The United States spends more money per pupil than any other country (except Luxembourg) yet there are schools that still lack in both teacher and student performance, look dirty, and lack creativity.

Chile has private schools that can do anything they want with the resources they have-yet they also fall short.

In fact, I have visited private schools in Chile located in wealthy areas and have not seen what I have seen in the little Escuela Epu Klei. Moreover, some private schools were a complete opposite - they collected tuition yet looked and felt PUBLIC.

Money is not everything

Escuela Epu Klei showed me that with mutual effort, strong leadership, and teacher effort and creativity, any school can be transformed into a place where teachers love to work and students love to learn.