Since the operation of Sebastian Piñera’s conservative government, Chilean students have been demonstrating to demand a greater level of equality and more universal access to education.

On Thursday, Chile’s Minister of Interior Rodrigo Peñailillo announced that university education will be free by 2016.

“In March 2016 we will start with the free higher education, now that we have the resources [to implement the reform], as we approved the fiscal reform,” said Peñailillo.

His announcement came after a survey released Wednesday claimed that the popularity of President Michelle Bachelet’s government had dropped to 38 percent amid heavy criticisms of the education reform.

“Issues of education, that address inequality, are at the core of the people’s concerns and we are working on it with the government,” added Peñailillo in an interview with Radio Cooperativa.

Bachelet started her second term in March with a program of social reforms that included education. In September, the president implemented a fiscal reform which aimed to allocate US $8.3 billion per year to fund education reform and social programs.

The announcement is expected to simmer tensions that the reform had generated, as students in particular have been protesting repeatedly, fearing the reform would further inequality in the already unequal educational system.

This article was originally published on teleSUR.