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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Deal offered in Chile schools row
Demonstrator takes on a police officer
Protests began several weeks ago in schools in Santiago
Chile's president has announced some concessions to improve conditions for secondary school students after mass nationwide protests.

Michelle Bachelet proposed improving infrastructure at schools but would not scrap bus fares - a key demand.

Student leaders are to meet to consider her proposals on Friday. They will also decide whether to go ahead with another national strike planned for next week.

The dispute is seen as a big test for the president who took office in March.

Hundreds of thousands of students took part earlier in the week in protests that turned violent.

I do not make promises that cannot be fulfilled
President Bachelet

More than 700 were arrested and about 20 people were injured.

Teachers and university students have expressed support for the strike planned for Monday.

'Realistic government'

"The Chilean state will be the guarantor of a quality education for all Chileans," Ms Bachelet said in a televised address late on Thursday.

According to the Associated Press news agency, the Chilean president annnounced:

  • emergency funding for free lunches for more poor students
  • plans to repair hundreds of school buildings and items of furniture
  • elimination of a fee for an exam required for college
  • proposed legislation on education reform to reduce inequality between schools

But she said Chile could not afford to make transport free for all students.

Michelle Bachelet
The schools row is Bachelet's first domestic crisis since taking office

"That money would allow us to build 33,000 houses for modest Chilean families, " she said.

"This is a realistic government. I do not make promises that cannot be fulfilled."

Protests began several weeks ago when students took over several schools in Santiago, and the strike has now spread nationwide with many pupils staying in school but refusing to attend lessons.

Tuesday's protests were the biggest student demonstrations in Chile in several decades.

Both police and students say the violence has been provoked by masked protesters throwing stones.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the clashes on the streets of Santiago



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Chile student protests
31 May 06 |  In Pictures
Chile sees more student clashes
01 Jun 06 |  Americas
Chile students clash with police
31 May 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
16 Jun 05 |  Country profiles


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