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Students clash with police during Chile protest

 
 
 
 
 
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A Chilean student throws back a tear gas canister at riot police during a protest against the government of President Sebastian Pinera, in Santiago on March 15, 2012.

Chilean students calling for education reforms in the South American country have clashed with police during a protest rally in the capital Santiago.

Thousands of high school students marched in downtown Santiago on Thursday to demand a better and equitable education system, including free education, a bigger state investment in public education, and tighter controls on the funding of private universities.

The protest turned violent after police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse those protesters who tried to cross a police barrier and march to the Education Ministry.

According to organizers of student protests, as many as 7,000 people took part in the “unauthorized” rally.

Thursday’s protesters were also demanding the reinstatement of about 100 students who were denied enrolment in their schools for participating in last year’s protests.

Over the past year, students have staged many protests demanding a strictly not-for-profit education system that is free for everyone.

The government says Chile can only afford to provide free education for the poorest 40 percent of its children. It also says there is no reason why the rich shouldn’t pay.

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