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Monica Jimenez

Monica Eliana Jimenez de la Jara is a Chilean Christian Democrat politician and current Minister of Education.

Jimenez comes from a very political family. Her father Oscar Jimenez Pinochet was Minister of Health under President Salvador Allende, while her brother Jorge occupied the same position under President Patricio Aylwin. Even though she never formally joined the Christian Democrat Party until 2009, she supported it since she was a university student. She graduated as a social worker from the Universidad Catolica de Chile. In 1981, she obtained a Fulbright scholarship that allowed her to complete a Postgrade in Social Work Education at the Catholic University of America, in Washington D.C.

Jimenez was married to Juan Barros, with whom they had five children, and who died in 2002, leaving her a widow. She was a member of the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation which investigated human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance that occurred in Chile during the years of military rule under General Augusto Pinochet. She was also a member of the Presidential Committee on Higher Education Certification and the Committee of the Fundacion Paz Ciudadana. Jimenez is also the leader of the project "University: Building a Nation", an initiative that unifies the social work of 13 Chilean universities. She is also president of the Educational Corporation Aprender, which runs two schools for socially disadvantaged children.

During her professional career, Jimenez has been Dean of Social Work at the Universidad Catolica de Chile, and president of the Teacher's Association of the same University, acting as their representative in the directive council. Before being appointed as Minister of Education by President Michelle Bachelet on April 18, 2008, she was the President of the Catholic University of Temuco. She replaces Yasna Provoste, dismissed in April 2008 because of her participation in the corruption case known as Caso Subvenciones.

In July 2008, during a public debate called "Dialogues for Education" and in the context of a manifestation of repudiation by various stake-holders, the 14 years old student Maria Musica Sepulveda threw her a jar of water to the face to catch the attention of the Minister who ignored her while she tried to discuss the violent ways used by the police to expel students from the debate. The act was widely rejected by politicians of government and opposition parties, but has generated a mixed reaction in the general population. The student organisations, in particular, have openly supported and revindicated Maria Musica's act.

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