Colombia’s almost entire public education system will shut down next week after teachers said they would join students in a strike demanding funds and the fulfillment of promises to finance public education.
Teachers union FECODE said their strike will begin Tuesday, claiming the government has only kept no more than 20% of the promises made to end strikes more than a year and a half ago.
Not even the agreement to convene a high-level commission to submit draft legislation to guarantee the financing of education from pre-school to higher education has been complied with.
Teachers representative Pedro Osorio
The teachers of the country’s primary and secondary schools will strike simultaneous with higher education students, who began striking Thursday last week also to demand increased funds to finance the closing of a chronic budget gap in education.
The protests further enlarge the problems of President Ivan Duque, who is suffering dropping approval ratings and hardly any convincing support in Congress.
The teachers said they will march in all Colombia’s big cities on Tuesday, a day before new student marches are expected on Wednesday.
According to FECODE, the teachers’ primary concern is the “terrible health services that deteriorate by the day.” The union said that teachers who are ill are refused doctor appointments.
The union claimed that “the education ministry … isn’t even doing its job to guarantee that [health] entities comply with their contractual terms.”
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Students have been holding weekly protests since Wednesday last week to demand funds for public universities that have suffered from chronic underfunding for years.
The wave of strikes are taking place just as Congress is debating the 2019 national budget.
The teachers and the students are particularly offended by the fact that Duque has requested an increase in military spending while leaving all levels of education underfunded.
According to the Education Ministry, some 8 million school children are affected by the strikes that in the past counted on the support of many parents.