Fewer and fewer students want to become teachers. Education remains the area that has seen the greatest decline in enrollment in higher education in recent years: by 2022 the drop was 7.3% in first-year enrollment and 6.9% in total undergraduate enrollment. To this we must add the abandonment of the profession. A study by the University of Chile (2021) showed that 20% of teachers leave the profession during their first five years of practice. Thus, the analysis of Elige Educar (2019) shows that by 2025 we would have a deficit of 32 thousand qualified teachers, becoming increasingly dramatic.

Why do young people not want to become teachers? How do we manage to attract them back? How urgently do we address this problem? Although none of these questions is simple, we will try to shed some light on them.

Among the reasons that make the career unattractive for young people, the most fundamental and complex to solve, is that the school is not seen as a place where one can grow professionally by acquiring new skills and competencies, partly due to the lack of autonomy in decision making, the bad working environment within the school - a relevant issue given the level of school violence - and also the lack of opportunities to move towards greater responsibilities. All this ends up discouraging both young people to choose it, as well as those who are just starting out, and therefore, these are the factors that should be the focus of our concern.

Despite the complexity of the issue, there are certain advances that are possible to carry forward. In this regard, in 2019, the Pedagogy Attraction Board presented a series of proposals that seek to attract more students and provide continuous support in the different stages, from the choice of the career to the exercise of their profession. To this end, the Table proposes a coordinated effort between the various state agencies, civil society and universities, to join forces and push hard to improve the teaching situation, which requires a series of legal changes.

However, these concerns seem to be off the agenda of the government and Congress. Currently, in relation to teachers, what is being discussed in Congress is to suspend the teacher evaluation, to allow teachers to be absent from their teaching duties for union reasons, to eliminate the reason for dismissal for having a consecutive bad evaluation, to restrict the training received during vacations and to allow only those provided by the Centro de Perfeccionamiento, Experimentaciones e Investigaciones Pedagógicas (CPEIP), leaving out the training provided by Universities, among other things. On the other hand, from the executive, the star initiative in this matter is an update of the registry of the historical debt of teachers. Aspects that have more to do with yielding to the pressures of the Teachers' Association than with solving fundamental problems.

Bearing in mind that one of the factors that most affects the improvement of learning is the teachers, it is essential that we advance in substantive solutions that have to do with improving the quality of their teaching and attracting good teachers, making schools more attractive and innovative spaces, leaving aside the particular and ideological interests of some groups.

Column by Magdalena Vergara, Research Director of IdeaPaís, published by El Líbero in the October 16, 2022 edition.