Public university students will continue their nation-wide strike to protest against the proposed privatization of higher education in Colombia, a student collective announced Monday.
Colombia’s National Student Round Table (Mane), a collective of student representatives from around the country, decided in a two-day meeting held in Bogota over the weekend to continue the protests against reform indefinitely.
Mane reaffirmed its demands of the government to withdraw the proposed reform of higher education that has been submitted to Congress. They also asked that the government respect their democratic freedom to mobilize and their right to protest.
Spokespeople of the Federation of University Students (FEU) in Bogota argue that the proposed reform, which aims to privatize the funding of public universities, will undermine the autonomy of higher education.
President Juan Manuel Santos called on students to take part in public forums being held by the Ministry of Education. The president challenged the claims of the students, who argued that they have no voice in debate.
“The government has been from the outset very interested in that the students all participate in the discussion about the law,” Santos asserted. “The minister has had 28 forums, which were not held in hotels, or convention centers, they were held in universities so that the students can express themselves about the reform.”
Santos maintained that he did his best to see all side of the public debate.
“I put myself in the shoes of the teachers, I put myself in the shoes of the directors, I made a test by putting myself in the shoes of the parents of the family and of the students themselves, and with those different perspectives I analyzed through the reform, article by article, and I confess to them that I didn’t find any reason to go protest,” Santos said.