Colombia: Teachers strike for quality education enters fourth week

Colombian teachers, accompanied by university students, protest in Bogota to demand education improvements on May 23
Friday, June 2, 2017

Colombia’s national teachers’ strike marked three weeks on June 1 as tens of thousands of education workers continue to pressure the government to respond to their demands for better working conditions, higher salaries and more investment in public education.

In the latest mass protest, about 300,000 teachers took to the streets on May 31 to call attention to education issues in major cities across the country, including Bogota, Cali, Medellin, Bucaramanga and Barranquilla.  

“The main task of the teachers’ strike is to win resources for education for dignity,” said Carlos Rivas, the president of the country’s main teachers’ union, the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode), on his Twitter account during the marches.

Teachers, who launched the indefinite strike on May 11 after talks with the government stalled, have criticised President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration for failing to meet fundamental needs in the public education system despite claiming to champion a plan to make Colombia the “most educated” country in Latin America.

“State abandonment is reflected in poor infrastructure in schools, poor nutrition (programs) and implementation of programs without relevant conditions,” Carlos Paz, a union leader in the Valle de Cauca department, told Colombia’s El Tiempo.

Fecode announced on its Twitter account on May 31 that teachers will continue the strike and that “stronger actions are being prepared.”

The strike has affected 8 million students across Colombia, but union leaders report that students and parents are increasingly supporting the movement for better quality education. 

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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