Cablegate: Media Report - Education Secretary Spellings' Visit To


DE RUEHSG #1368/01 2331814
R 211814Z AUG 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: Press coverage of Secretary of Education Margaret
Spellings' visit has been extremely positive. All dailies
highlighted the visit with references to the new Ph.D. Equal
Opportunity Scholarship Program, which Secretary Rice signed in
Washington on August 8. Influential "El Mercurio" noted the
importance of the private sector's cooperation in strengthening
education. The media also emphasized that English fluency is not an
admission requirement, which will enable talented Chilean students
to obtain PhDs at U.S. universities after intensive English-language
training. End Summary.

2. On August 21, conservative, influential newspaper-of-record "El
Mercurio" (circ. 129,000) ran an interview with Secretary Spellings
entitled, "Margaret Spellings: 'Education is strengthening with the
commitment of the private sector'"

2. Subheadline: "The Secretary is in Santiago to promote new Ph.D.
scholarship program for Chileans."

3. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has had a tight
agenda in Chile. Yesterday she met with her counterpart Yasna
Provoste, the Dean of the University of Chile Victor Perez, and
Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley. The goal is to promote the
"Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program for 100 Chilean students to
complete Ph.D. studies in U.S. universities without having English

4. Spellings' delegation includes the presidents of eight
universities...and the idea is to increase student exchange in both
directions. "We want to find ways to provide English learning
(opportunities) for Chilean students and also encourage more of our
students to study in Chile. In fact, my daughter studies in South
America, in Mendoza. I, therefore, strongly believe in exchange
programs," said Spellings.

5. Asked what type of student is expected to join the scholarship
program, the Secretary said: "Basically students from low-income
families or with some English-language disadvantage, but who are
very talented. That is why they want to obtain PhDs, especially in
science and technology. We also want them to study other
disciplines and hope to offer opportunities to the teachers."

6. Question: Have the discussions about Chilean teachers going to
improve their English skills in the United States moved forward?

7. Spellings: "Yes. In fact the Miami Dade College, whose
President is here, is one of our leading English and Spanish
teaching institutions (...). There are several agreements already,
but the important thing here is that this is the first time the U.S.
government is actively a part of these agreements."

8. Question: Is cooperation in education a new way for the United
States to build ties with the countries of Latin America?

9. Spellings: "Of course. We know our neighbors are important and
that the knowledge-based economy has no boundaries. I have a friend
who says that you can buy in any language, but you have to sell in
the buyer's language; It is therefore, important that we learn
Spanish and you English."

10. Asked about the goal of her meeting with the private sector
today, Spellings said: "One of the things we have discovered in our
country is that the commitment of the private sector significantly
strengthens education, especially in universities. This creates
alliances for research and development that allows professors to
gain practical experience in the real and private world. The
business sector knows that an educated work force is vital to
success (...). That is why we want to see how the private sector in
Chile is cooperating with education and encourage it to do more."

11. Question: What is the image of the Chilean educational system?

12. Spellings: "You have a high level of literacy and a long-term
commitment to providing access. You have made significant progress
in promoting opportunity, not just for the elite. Those are the
same issues we are concerned with in the United States. We have a
very good impression and that is why we have come, to encourage our
students to study here as well as receive students from your

13. On August 21, conservative, independent on line and "La

Tercera" (on-line daily, 8/21): "Chile and U.S. Launch Scholarship

14. Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley and U.S. Secretary of
Education Margaret Spellings launched the "Chile-U.S. Equal
Opportunities Scholarships" program. The program will allow Chilean
professionals to attend the best U.S universities without the
English requirement at the time of their application, reported the
Foreign Ministry. "With the visit of Secretary Spellings we are
launching a program that we signed two weeks ago with Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice," Foxley noted. He said that this program
will "reward" talent and effort as the fundamental criteria, while
not discriminating based on social economic level or the level of
English proficiency acquired during school years. Spellings is in
Chile with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Affairs
Thomas Farrell, leading a delegation of presidents from prestigious
U.S. universities."

15. On August 21, business and financial "Diario Financiero" (circ.
30,000): In a letter to the editor, a reader praised the program
that creates 100 new graduate scholarships, in particular the
elimination of English fluency as a requirement. He noted that this
policy will make individuals eligible to the program from sectors
that were traditionally excluded from the admissions process.

16. On August 20, " "Ministers of Education from
Chile and the U.S. meet to ratify scholarship agreement in the
northern country."
The meeting took place with a delegation of Presidents from the most
prestigious U.S. universities, which agreed to receive every year
100 youths who do not speak English to do their graduate studies in
the United States. During the meeting, Yasna Provoste spoke of the
importance of the agreement that will allow that 100 Chilean
students can annually do their post-graduate studies in the United
States. She said "this agreement of equal opportunities has a
strong focus on ensuring equity, so that language is not an
impediment for the best students to study in American universities."
Secretary Spellings said her interest is that not only Chilean

students go to the United States, but also for Americans to come to
Chile. "The idea is to have more circulation and this is achieved
through alliances between countries, because education and
innovation have no barriers."

17. On August 21, independent, liberal online news service "El
Mostrador": "Chile and the U.S. formalize doctorate scholarships
without language barriers"
The U.S. Secretary of Education visited Chile to promote the program
of post graduate scholarships that seeks to favor qualified students
that do not have a good command of English and that in the past were
not able to participate in these initiatives.

18. Spellings arrived in Chile with a delegation of eight U.S.
university presidents and explained her vision for the agreement
with Chile, pointing out that favoring low income students is a
priority of this program. She said the initiative "seeks equity.
Before this agreement, the prerequisites for this kind of
scholarship had limiting effects on the kind of student who could
participate and, in this case, we want to break this barrier."

19. Sara Martinez Tucker from the Department of Education considers
this idea as an "opportunity for us too...there is a growth in the
Hispanic population and we really don't have any help to establish
programs and we hope that the exchange of teachers will be of mutual
benefit." On the other hand, the Presidents that are with Spellings
have already begun conversations with national education
institutions to establish links and create alliances.

20. On August 21, "The Santiago Times" headlined: "U.S. Secretary of
Education Promotes PHD program in Chile."

21. U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings reconfirmed this
week promises of U.S. aid and language training for Chilean PhD
candidates who opt to do their graduate work at U.S. universities.
Spellings said the aim is to promote educational integration between
the U.S. and Chile and to provide special help for students form
lower income families. The Secretary stressed that the PhD program
is just one in a long list of educational initiatives that U.S. and
Chilean officials are working to create.

22. On August 21, Foreign Relations Ministry website: Foreign
Relations Minister and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret
Spellings initiate the "Chile-U.S Equal Opportunity Scholarships

23. "With the visit of Secretary Spellings, we are beginning a

program that we signed two weeks ago with U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice. It is a program of 100 scholarships a year that
we have called equal access or equal opportunity, because in the
future, to participate in a doctorate degree program at the best
U.S. universities, English will no longer be a barrier.... We have
wanted to offer the Foreign Ministry as a platform for delivering
the scholarships, because we also believe that a foreign policy
should include, as a fundamental theme, the facilitation of
exchanges of people who wish to increase their level of knowledge as
well as the exchange of scientists and professionals who can
transfer practical experience on many subjects."

24. On August 21, Ministry of Education website: "Minister Provoste
Ratifies Bilateral Educational Agreement with U.S. Secretary of

25. Minister of Education Yasna Provoste Campillay and U.S.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings ratified the Equal

Opportunities Agreement that will allow 100 Chilean students to
annually conduct PhD and postgraduate studies in several U.S.
universities through 2010. Minister Provoste received the visit of
her American counterpart, who is leading a delegation that includes
Under Secretary of Education Sara Martinez, and higher education
representatives from the states of Louisiana, California, Iowa,
Nebraska and Miami.... The U.S. Secretary of Education underscored
that this agreement is part of a global community that builds upon
these kinds of enriching educational experiences. "We are in a
world in which we all need to learn from each other. Therefore, we
not only want to have Chilean students come to our country, but also
that U.S. students go to Chile. The idea is to achieve a higher
circulation which is achieved through alliances with other
countries. To us, education and innovation do not have boundaries,"
Spellings said.


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