In an interview with a CRIMSON reporter recently, S. Husband, exchange professor from the University of Santiago, Chile, contrasted the system of education in his country with that used in the United States. The University of Santiago is the largest in South America, and is typical of all the others. What is said of it applies equally to all the South American universities.
"The first great difference between education in South America and here," said Professor Husbands, "is that in our country the government controls all educational institutions. There are no private schools; everything is under one head. Text-books and all supplies are furnished by the government. This is, of course, of great advantage to the poor.
"The system in vogue in South America is modelled on the German plan. It is divided into three grades primary, secondary, and superior. A boy enters the first (I say a boy, there is no co-education in South America) at the age of nine. He remains in the primary grade for two years. Then he enters the secondary department and remains there for eight years. In these eight years he finishes the work done in grammar schools here, and completes that done in high school and college. To do this the work must necessarily be very hard. The average number of classes a day is six, and for each one there must be thorough preparation. The average South American, then, graduates when he is 17, an age when most people in the States enter college. Then if he intends to take up some profession, he enters the superior grade. This corresponds to your professional schools. Just as our pupils must work harder in college, so your pupils work much harder in the professional schools. The course in our medical school takes seven years; in our law school, five. All one has to do is to attend classes in the morning.
No Elective System.
"In South America we have no elective system. Every conceivable subject must be taken. We cannot specialize in any one department. If a man is going to be a lawyer, he must take all the courses in mathematics and chemistry just the same. This system does not produce as good specialists' as yours does, but it does produce a more cultivated man. An individual, after he has been educated in South America, has an extraordinary broad and liberal education. His interests have been cultivated so that he is not centered on one thing, but on many.
If you fail in one course, you must repeat the whole year's work. If you fail in history, you take English, mathematics, chemistry, and the rest all over again.
"In our country, too, we put the emphasis more on foreign languages than you do. French and English are always required, and the average man learns another language. The emphasis is all put on the practical side; we learn to speak the language. We do not learn to read it well, which you do, however.
"The principle ways, then, in which education in South America differs from that here is that the division is different, that there is no elective system, and that we learn to speak languages rather than to read them."