Photo: Teachers strike in Colombia
Roughly 9 million Colombian public school students could not attend classes on Wednesday due to a teachers strike.
“Today ... the teachers on the national level are on strike,” said the leader of the Fecode union, Luis Grubert, at a press conference in Bogota.
It is necessary to seek “a way out of this labor conflict that today is affecting 8.7 million children, which is impacting 334,000 educators,” he said, demanding that the national government “pay the required attention to it.”
The teachers are asking for better pay and health benefits and a change in the evaluation system.
Education Minister Maria Fernanda Campo expressed her surprise over the Fecode decision to launch the strike.
“We went to sleep last night with an agreement ... between the Fecode negotiating committee and the Education Ministry,” she said.
“Today, with great surprise, we woke up (to learn that) the Fecode leadership committee has not recognized these agreements which we arrived at yesterday,” the minister said.
“Yes, there were advances with the ... government, with the ministers of Finance, Labor and Education, as well as with officials with the president’s office, but what we have is a draft that still has imprecisions, and if the text is not clear the government ends up evading responsibilities as it has done before,” Grubert said.
The union leader said that as long as the accord is not completed, “the decision to strike will be maintained.”
One of the most difficult points in the negotiations is that of teacher evaluations, Grubert said.
Evaluation “became an instrument that does not impact at all on the quality of education but disqualifies (people) so that the teachers cannot move ahead and improve their incomes,” he said.
“We’re asking that the evaluation of skills be suspended and that other criteria be prepared so that the (union members) may move ahead. This is a non-negotiable point,” he said.