Impacts of Computer Technology by Mapuche Students in Chilean Schools


Toro, Fernando (2018) Impacts of Computer Technology by Mapuche Students in Chilean Schools. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Chile has embarked on a major initiative to introduce information and communication technologies (ICTs) in schools. Some of the reasons behind this initiative were the need to improve the equity and quality of education. Although, it must be noted that the introduction of ICTs, has not been an initiative in isolation, as there are other areas that were also identified as needing attention. For example, increasing the number of classrooms, upgrading existing schools, improving the quality of teachers and teaching practices, curriculum changes, increasing the number of scholarships to cover the cost of education, school lunches and free personal computers to high performing students. The democratic governments that proceeded the Pinochet dictatorship, inherited an education system that was market driven, had structural deficiencies, poor performance results, impoverished schools and lacking in quality and equity. However, the model imposed by the dictatorship, has persisted during the various democratic governments that followed and so, has meant that teachers, parents and students, especially those in the secondary and tertiary levels have criticised and protested against it, demanding changes, such as a more equalitarian and free education. As indicated earlier, the increased education budget, which has translated into increasing the number of classrooms, changes to the curriculum, teacher training and the introduction of ICT into the education system have not been without challenges and/or criticism. For example, although there have been marginal quantifiable results that would attest to the rationale behind these measures, there is still a significant number who believe that the changes have not been sufficient or go deep enough to remove any vestige from the reforms implemented during the dictatorship and then, there are those who oppose changes to education and want the reforms implemented by Pinochet to remain in place. It is evident that the political climate in Chile remains polarised and so, the subject of education has become politicised. Thus, it is in this context that the thesis sought to understand what challenges are being faced by rural schools, with emphasis on those where the majority of students are Mapuche and where ICTs have been introduced. The Mapuche are a native people who inhabit the southern regions of Argentina and Chile. The thesis looks at two schools and considers the Principals, Teachers, a Mapuche elder and the classroom activities to understand the actors at play. The thesis is a primarily a qualitative research and draws on existing works and theory dealing with education, social factors, inclusion, exclusion and historical analysis of Chile’s educational policies. However, there is no work, that was found, to have looked at Mapuche students and which has used Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to identify the actors and networks that may be possible within the observed school settings. Therefore, as a contribution to knowledge, this thesis uses ANT to identify and describe the human and non-human actors involved in the classroom when ICTs are used. As well, there are those other networks and actors outside the school, but which also are intertwined or have an impact on what takes place in the classroom and outside the school and which may play a part in the Mapuche students’ education. This approach was taken, so that actors could be identified from a holistic viewpoint, to highlight where these may need to be taken into account, when considering the introduction of ICTs and with a specific emphasis on rural schools where the majority are Mapuche students. The research used as a secondary approach, quantitative data on the schools’ ethnicity numbers, performance indicators, connectivity rates and a number of social indicators including country and regional demographics. This data was necessary to have an overview and provide some context for this thesis’ approach. However, the main strategy of the research was a qualitative approach by means of face-to face interviews, to gain a personal perspective from the human actors and to document it in the same manner. This approach was aimed at capturing the verbosity of their answers, which may have otherwise, been lost by simply asking the participants to answer a questionnaire. As well as interviews, classroom observations took place to capture the dynamics of the classroom and in particular, while ICTs were used. Finally, emails also served as a medium to capture data, however, these were essentially used to make contact or obtain clarification on a particular subject. All forms of communication and interviews were conducted in Spanish and translated into English by myself (the researcher), who is a native speaker of the language. Finally, the recommendations that are proposed, contribute to both, academic and general knowledge and challenge the current top-down/homogenous approach to implement education reforms, which implies a homogenous school population, without the consideration of the various actors that have not been taken into account, but which play a part in the success or failure of the students to have access to equal opportunities both during and beyond schooling years.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords information and communication technology; ICT; actor-network theory; ANT; education; Chile; Mapuche; exclusion; inclusion; educational policy
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