Colombian teachers’ nationwide strike goes into third week

World Today

Colombian teachers' nationwide strike goes into third week

The Colombian government and the country’s 350,000 public school teachers remain at odds in negotiations to end a nationwide strike.

CGTN’s Michelle Begue reports from Bogota.

Many of the striking teachers marched again Wednesday to demand better wages and increased investment in education.

“All public workers legally are entitled to yearly bonuses yet teachers don’t,” Oscar Alexander Ballen Cifuentes, director of Teacher’s Investigative Network said.

“Senators raise their salaries and other government officials can raise their salaries but we are not afforded the same rights.”

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said earlier this month that there was simply not enough money in the government budget to meet the teachers’ demands.

A former vice minister of education said the government is in a tough position and needs to think of ways to restructure financing for education.

“Education always needs more resources but there needs to be structural change in the source of the ministry’s resources,” Victor Saavedra, former vice minister of Education said. “But we are going through a particularly difficult time, where resources are not going to be available.”

This teacher’s strike is the third in the past four years. With these public school teachers on strike, an estimated eight million Colombian children have been left without schooling for the past three weeks. But teachers said the fight for quality education will continue until needs are met.

“There is usually a strike every 2 years and this will probably continue to happen until we have an educational system of high quality, and until the government puts education as a priority,” Cifuentes said.

The teachers said if they don’t reach an agreement with the government soon, they would join a National Workers strike set for June 12.