Arturo Infante Reñasco, Presidente de la Cámara Chilena del Libro: “Remember that books in Chile were exempt from taxation until the introduction of the value added tax (VAT) in 1976. This was a time when freedom of expression and citizen representation were nonexistent and books meant for military rulers a hazard as dangerous as a loaded gun. Although there were hundreds of exceptions to the VAT, all related to the interests of those in power during this time period, books evidently never had this privilege.”
Arturo Infante Reñasco: “There is a recent survey commissioned by the Chamber of Book Commerce, which says that 70 percent of people in Chile, and in some cases a little more, never enter a bookstore or even a library“.
In that context, he announced that his union and the University of Chile have signed an agreement to implement an observatory of books and reading.
Infante explained that this is necessary because the current statistics are residual and impede knowing for sure what level of readership there is in the country. “All we know is that people in Chile read very little,” he said.
To graph the Chilean situation, here in Chile there is an average of 20 bookstores per 100 thousand inhabitants, while in Argentina there are 80 for the same amount of population. For that reason we asked: “Why do Chileans read 3 or 4 times less than Argentinians?
The union leader said that books are a public good, because reading is a basic tool of education and postulated that removing the value-added tax (VAT) would be a strong signal that the government is interested that people read books.
Infante concluded that the elimination of this tax benefits only publishers. “That is to ignore the value chain of the book. The editor is a minor player who is concerned about the VAT, because the publisher recovers the taxes he must pay by passing the cost on to the consumer. The only person that does not recover the VAT (19%) is the reader, the end consumer, “he said.
“That’s the story for the book in Chile. The “Chilean Way” differentiates today from almost every country in the world, who do not have or have differentiated VAT. This Chilean originality has not been replicated by any other country, and has raised eyebrows in some specialists, among other reasons, because after decades results speak for themselves: Chile has today paltry achievements in all measurements of reading habits and reading comprehension.”
No one can be surprised that most Chileans do not fully understand what s/he reads.“Certainly “read without VAT” will not solve the problem, but we must take care of the symbolic value of the citizens who are questioning the VAT policy towards books in general.”
“Citizens are questioning the country, and its authorities, by the indifference they have now and have had in the past with books and readers. They are telling us it’s time to think about the right to read and it is not mandatory that the economic criteria are always the most important criteria related to decisions about books.”
This book tells the story of EdCamp Santiago. EdCamp is a R(E)volution in professional develoment. It is free, participant-driven, conversation-based, democratic PD for teachers, by teachers.
There are no plenaries, no publishers book displays, just teachers talking to teachers, sharing best practice: what works in the classroom, practical, not theoretical knowledge.
The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.
It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.
I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.
In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.
I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.
Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.
He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.
Thomas is also a member of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.
Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty four (44) books overall.
The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.