Teachers from across Colombia will arrive in Bogota on Tuesday for a “permanent occupation” of the capital to further pressure the government to invest in the country’s substandard education system, their union said.
Teachers union FECODE announced the concentration in Bogota of teachers who have been on strike for weeks to demand more investment in the education infrastructure, more teachers and higher wages.
The teachers’ representatives and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos have been negotiating without result as the state’s coffers are virtually empty.
Nevertheless, the teachers have been persistent. According to the union, “caravans” of teachers will be arriving in the capital around 9AM after which they will march to the central Bolivar Square where they will stay until the government and the union reach an agreement.
Both the government and the teachers blame each other of a lack of will to come to an agreement to end the strike.
According to newspaper El Pais, Education Vice-Minister Pablo Jaramillo said the new and massive teachers’ protest “only shows the lack of will of FECODE to end the strike.”
Strike leader Over Dorado said that in order to lift the strike “the economic and judicial will of the government” is missing.
The union additionally accused the government of spreading of disinformation to break the strike. False Fecode letters have allegedly been sent to parents announcing an end of the strike on Monday, the day before the “occupation of Bogota.”
After admitting not having made any advances after weeks of negotiations, Education Minister Yaneth Giha told press that “we have already passed the legal time period for negotiations,” implying she could sit out negotiations without making one concession, leaving the negotiations with the Labor Minister.
The education minister has repeatedly said that the strike leaves the country’s 8 million children at public schools are unable to go to school.
This was contradicted by multiple parents consulted by Colombia Reports, who said the striking teachers take turns to make sure the children don’t have to stay home.