(from: Waldorf Education Worldwide, pp. 176-177, Note the Copyright!)
Like a narrow, 4,200 km long ribbon, Chile runs northwards along the Pacific coast from Cape Horn in the South. Its width varies between 90 and 400 km. It used to be called “El ultimo rincón del mundo”, the end of the world, and Cape Horn is still the world’s southern-most inhabited patch of land.
Waldorf Education was brought to Chile by Claudio Rauch who had studied anthroposophy for four years in Los Angeles, USA. In March 1967 he founded a school for children with learning difficulties, the Miguel Arcángel School which was the first curative establishment in the whole of South America. The school was recognized by the state in 1970 and exists to this day.
A Waldorf Kindergarten was founded in Santiago de Chile in March 1979, and from that grew the Giordano Bruno School which opened its doors to Classes 1 and 2 the very next year. In contrast with other countries in South America, the help and support needed in the early stages of the Waldorf initiatives came exclusively from Chile itself. The Giordano Bruno School was recognized by the Ministry for Education in 1984 and since then the Waldorf curriculum has been accepted in Chile. The school has decided not to apply for state support so that it can adhere fully to the Waldorf curriculum. It now reaches up to Class 8. Pupils then move on to mainstream schools where headmasters have commented on the Waldorf School’s achievements and attested to the fact that its pupils demonstrate an exceptional interest in all that goes on in the world.
The Colegio Rudolf Steiner was founded in 1984 and now reaches to Class 12. It is like a civilized oasis in the midst of this great city and is bursting at the seams. A piece of land has been purchased on the outskirts which would offer ample space for a kindergarten and the whole school. But the area has not yet been fully developed, and both teachers and parents love the city atmosphere in the centre of town. So a final decision as to a move has not yet been taken.
The slum districts of La Lengua, El Pinar and Villa Navidad in the borough of San Joaquin in Santiago are dominated by unemployment, drug dealing and violence. The city has too few state schools which are crowded with too many children. Those from the slum districts are discriminated against and often leave discouraged. The normal school day runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Hyperactivity is controlled medically.
This is where the small Parsifal Waldorf School for underprivileged children opened in March 1995. They are taught reading, writing and arithmetic in small classes, and also music, art and crafts. Most parents are single mothers and they have been offered courses in nutrition, hygiene, dressmaking and toy-making. Young drug addicts have been offered counselling and therapeutic work. The Parsifal School also suffered from lack of space, but this has been resolved with the help of the Friends of Waldorf Education and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. A piece of land was purchased, two classrooms were built and a hall for festivals refurbished.
The local authority had agreed to support the school’s running costs once the water quality on the plot had been certified as safe. The inspection was put off from one month to the next until a whole school year had passed. The school got into financial difficulties again and when it was no longer possible to pay the teachers’ salaries it had to close in 2000 after having been in existence for five years.
The rural school at Limache, between Santiago and Valparaiso, had been functioning for one school year (1999/ 2000) at the end of which it consisted of a kindergarten and three combined classes. Angelika Valespir and Jorge Gomez are hoping to establish a cultural centre at Limache with a school, a training centre, a clinic and agriculture.
MÓNICA WALDMANN WIENER
Mónica Waldmann Wiener
Works at the Colegio Miguel Arcángel for children with learning difficulties. In 1979 founder of the kindergarten at the Giordano Bruno Waldorf School.