Chile

Agencia de Calidad de la Educación
División de Estudios
Departamento de Estudios Internacionales

Language and Literacy

The main language in Chile is Spanish, and the Constitution does not recognize an official language. Almost the entire population of Chile speaks Spanish, and all national administrative documents are in Spanish. The predominant language of instruction in the national educational system from Grades 1 to 12 is Spanish. Because primary and secondary education in Chile are compulsory, the country has a high literacy rate (95.7 percent of the population over age 15 can read and write).1

According to the National Institute of Statistics, 4.6 percent of the population belongs to one of the eight official ethnic groups defined in Law No. 19.253: Aimara, Mapuche, Quechuas, Rapa Nui, Atacameños, Collas, Diaguita, Kawashkar, and Yagán. The first four groups have their own languages, which currently are used by them.2 Law No.19.253 stipulates that a system of intercultural bilingual education should be implemented in areas with a high Indigenous population, in order to prepare Indigenous learners to develop in an adequate way in their society of origin and in the global society.a,3

Consequently, the Ministry of Education implemented the Bilingual Intercultural Education Program, which stipulates the instruction of Indigenous languages in schools with a high level of Indigenous students. The teaching of Aimara, Mapudungun, Quechua, and Rapa Nui languages from Grades 1 to 7 is guided by a curriculum specially developed for this goal.4

  • a Law No. 20.253 established rules on the protection, promotion, and development of the Indigenous peoples and created the Indigenous national development corporation.