Professors associations met with Colombia’s education minister, Maria Fernanda Campo, Thursday to discuss proposals to amend President Juan Manuel Santos‘ proposed education reform (Ley 30).
Directors of the Colombian Association of Universities (ASCUN) and the State University System (SUE) explained that the autonomy of public universities will be jeopardized if universities receive funding from the private sector, as it is outlined in Santos’ reform.
The association of professors presented 10 possible changes and guarantees they wish to implement to assure the autonomy of the public university system.
The initial draft of proposals, which will officially be submitted sometime before the reform bill’s July 20 vote in congress, includes defining education as a fundamental right guaranteeing young people greater access to education.
The association is also asking for guaranteed funding for public universities.
“Research, coverage and quality have increasing costs and they need better funding from the Colombian university system,” said Jose Fernando Isaza, president of ASCUN.
Minister Campo reitereated that public resources will never be sufficient and the education system must seek alternate resources including funding from the private sector, a message that she has been proclaiming for months.
The biggest fear of the professors association as well as some university students is that funding from the private sector will focus university research on projects that would benefit private businesses and usurp the traditional social improvement aims of the public university system in Colombia.
The professors also argue that university accreditation should remain self-determined, which contradicts the education reform’s intention to implement pre-requisites for universities to gain accreditation, reported El Tiempo.
Education minister Campo said she will analyze the proposals discussed in the meeting and invited the associations to an official meeting to review the proposals to the education reform on July 5.
“There are some things that we could agree on. We are going to analyze them and see how to incorporate them in the version of the project we are going to present to congress on July 20,” said Campo.