July 15, 2008 / 2:48 PM / 10 years ago

Student pours cold water on school reform

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A student poured cold water on Chile’s unpopular education reform on Monday — literally.

The 14-year-old schoolgirl threw a pitcher of cold water in Education Minister Monica Jimenez’s face at an event to discuss reform of a sector that students and teachers complain is underfunded and neglects the poor.

“They could have thrown a pitcher, a glass pitcher and I could be in hospital now,” Jimenez told reporters. “I particularly blame the teachers union. ... If they are inciting acts of violence, they should answer for what happened today.”

Monday’s meeting was part of a government effort to calm tensions after sometimes violent student marches in recent weeks to protest an education reform bill they say does not address the shortcomings of an existing dictatorship-era law.

President Michelle Bachelet was dumbfounded.

“What seems incomprehensible to me is that those who have the duty and responsibility to impart values and principles in classrooms every day could endorse an attitude that goes against the values and principles I’d like a child of mine to adopt,” Bachelet told reporters.

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