A nation-wide student strike against higher education reform costs Colombia $5.6 million each day, said the country’s education minister Thursday.
“The cost of the strike is enormous because one day of closure of all the public universities costs the country 10.7 billion pesos [$5.6 million], public resources that we have provided all Colombians to finance the education of young people,” said Education Minister Maria Fernanda Campo.
The minister urged the 550,000 public university students participating in strikes across the country to engage in discussions with the government about education reform, rather than draining precious public resources.
If Campo’s estimation is correct, the protests, which have continued for about two weeks, would have cost the state nearly $80 million in total losses.
Colombia’s National Student Round Table (Mane), a collective of student representatives from around the country, decided on October 16 to continue the protests against reform indefinitely.
Student leaders also recently turned down an offer to debate the Colombian government’s controversial education reforms after the minister of education ruled out the possibility of revoking the bill.
The government claims the proposed reform, known as “Law 30,” will see the injection of desperately needed funds into the education system, improve the quality of the education system and increase access.
However, critics believe Law 30 will lower the quality of the academic studies, undermine the autonomy of universities, and spiral the cost of education for students.