President Obama and President Piñera are committed to an expanding and comprehensive education partnership. They affirm that U.S.-Chile education cooperation contributes to the creation of knowledge-rich societies. The U.S.-Chile partnership is critical to improving and expanding access to quality education, promoting educational exchanges, and developing greater mutual understanding and lasting relationships in all fields. The Obama Administration supports Chile’s goals of improving the quality of education through outreach to educational policymakers, trainers, and teachers, and by direct engagement with youth.
Toward this end, President Obama and President Piñera agreed to strengthen existing U.S.-Chile cooperation on education, while encouraging new collaboration:
Exchange Programs: The United States will continue to support educational and cultural exchanges between Chileans and Americans. Chilean youth advocates, teachers, trainers, principals, and education policymakers have traveled to the United States for exchange programs, and in turn, U.S. experts have traveled to Chile. In 2010, more than 2,000 students from Chile studied in the United States. Chile is also among the top 25 most popular destinations for U.S. students to study abroad, with more than 3,500 American students studying in Chile in the 2008/2009 academic year.
English Language Programs: The United States supports President Piñera’s commitment to increasing English language instruction in Chile. Through U.S. government programs, specialists in English language training will assist Chilean educational institutions for periods ranging from several weeks to several years. The United States is also expanding and upgrading training for teachers of English as well as supporting the development of bilingual education programs in Chilean schools starting in grade five. The United States and Chile have signed a Letter of Intent to increase collaboration and coordination in English language training. (text of letter: English, Spanish)
Fulbright: The Chilean Fulbright Program is among the strongest in the world, and recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. A binational commission with representatives from Chile and the United States manages the program. The Programa Beca Igualdad de Oportunidades, known as BIO, gives Chilean scholars selected for Fulbright fellowships special assistance to develop advanced English proficiency for doctoral or post-doctoral study in the United States. There are 248 Chilean Fulbright scholars in the United States and 43 U.S. Fulbright scholars in Chile during the 2010-2011 academic year.
Binational Centers: Chile’s network of 10 binational centers (BNCs) and five American Corners reaches out to local audiences with information from, and about, the United States, including English teaching and academic advising for students who wish to study in the United States. BNC resources such as libraries, research specialists, cultural programs, and guest speakers help to develop mutual understanding between the two countries. The BNCs manage the Access Micro-Scholarship Program, which provides disadvantaged youth with scholarships to study English.
Youth Ambassadors and Science Camps: The United States is committed to expanding opportunities for Chilean youth at all levels of society. Approximately 28 Chilean high school students have traveled, and roughly 20 will travel, to the United States this year under the Youth Ambassadors Program. Through U.S. government sponsorship, Chilean students from disadvantaged backgrounds also participate in the National Youth Science Camp, a one-month residential program in West Virginia, and in the Institute of the Americas’ summer science program.
Educational Infrastructure: The United States is committed to helping Chile rebuild its educational infrastructure after last year’s earthquake. For instance, the United States provided funds to update research and teaching equipment at the University of Concepción’s Oceanographic Research Facility.
Smithsonian Institution MOU: The Smithsonian Institution is in the process of signing an MOU with the Government of Chile to expand cooperation on scientific research (highlighting cooperation on astronomical observation) and cultural education, including increased exchange between museums. Of note is an exhibit under development at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, DC, on the rescue of the miners from the San Jose mine last October, which is planned to open in August 2011.