Classes were suspended across Colombia and teachers marched in major cities on Wednesday calling on the government to fulfill promises of increased funds for public education.
According to teachers union FECODE, President Ivan Duque‘s national development plan that seeks to set out policies for the coming four years fails to address the needs of the country’s public education system.
The teachers want the government to include a constitutional reform that guarantees greater resources for school food, transportation, increased teacher salaries, materials and adequate infrastructure.
The country’s school system has suffered years of deficiencies in these areas due to chronic underfunding.
When the teachers laid down work In 2017, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos agreed to address the demands, but has only implemented the wage increase.
Only 90 contracts of the 520 set for school maintenance by Former president Manuel Santos were executed.
Other objectives of the march include the timely compliance with teachers health contracts, FECODE says the teacher’s healthcare intermediate owes $225 million to doctors and hospitals.
“Today we ask for the utmost political will on the part of the national government to find solutions within the time frame of negotiations. Delays will aggravate the critical problems in the country’s public education.”
Increases in salaries for teachers are negotiated along with increases in public employees by FECODE and other organizations. The increases for 2019 are still under debate.
Teachers goal is to “support the negotiation with the march to ensure a dignified increase.”
They are also voicing concern for the recent objections of the war crimes tribunal and Duque’s general failure to implement a peace deal with the now-demobilized FARC. Teachers concerns are tied in with security concerns, as they are often threatened by armed group who wish to recruit minors.
Teacher strikes have become common in Colombia. The latest one is the fourth in a year.