Colombia’s Congress has voted to withdraw the government’s controversial higher education reform bill, in a resounding victory for student protesters.
Students, who have been on strike for five weeks against a bill they believed would lead to the privatisation of universities, hailed the vote as a “victory for those who believe education must be a right”. They pledged to return to class immediately.
In a statement, the students’ organization, National Alternative Education Board, said, “there were three conditions – first, that this reform package was withdrawn; second, that the government showed a willingness to build a new reform package, and lastly that there were guarantees regarding finishing the semester. All this has been accepted by the government and so we will end the strike right now.”
A Congressional committee passed 18 votes in favor and none against the proposed reform of “Law 30.” Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos instructed the Education Minister Maria Fernando Campo to order the vote, in response to mass protests which have paralyzed cities across the country.
Following the announcement, the education minister confirmed that 15 universities of the 32 that were on strike have decided to resume classes.