Colombian students across the country plan a night carnival for Thursday, to culminate in a kiss-in, as part of their ongoing protest against higher education reforms.
According to newspaper El Espectador, the events will coincide with two public debates on higher education — one of them between students and Colombia’s Ministry of Education in Congress and the other held by student organization MANE, which has invited President Juan Manuel Santos to debate the proposed education reform at the Central University in Bogota.
Education Minister Maria Fernanda Ocampo and Minister of Finance Juan Carlos Echeverry will be present at the Congressional debate, which is the third of its kind to discuss the controversial Law 30, which would reform higher education.
MANE also invited the minister and vice-minister of education, in addition to the Colombian president, to discuss the reform in a debate outside of the formality of a congressional debate. The Education Ministry, however, claimed that they have not received a formal invitation.
Students have staged a similar protest every week since taking to the streets in early October. On previous occasions, students nationwide have marched through the streets, often in a peaceful manner but sometimes ending in violent clashes with the police.
The kiss-in is the second of its kind — students held a similar event in Bogota on October 18 in which protesters brought their partners to the National University for a half-hour of smooching.
The education reform controversy is caused by the proposed changes to Law 30. According to the government, this law must be reformed to be able to increase the number of Colombians taking part in higher public education, but critics maintain that the law will deteriorate the quality of education and cause further financial problems for the already broke public universities.