BOGOTA – Thousands of Colombian public school teachers took to the streets on Thursday for a 48-hour strike in the country’s main cities to demand better healthcare, pay hikes and government compliance with prior agreements.
In Bogota, where teachers from the provinces of Tolima, Huila, Meta and Boyaca also turned out, demonstrators gathered at the National Park, where they began a lively march to the Education Ministry.
During the demonstration, students and teachers affiliated with the Fecode educators federation displayed signs with slogans such as “More books, fewer weapons,” “Fight for education” and “Education is dead.”
Fecode said that there were also demonstrations in Cali, Medellin, Bucaramanga and other cities, including on the Caribbean island of San Andres.
This is the second strike staged by the teachers this year, the first one coming in February when educators halted their classroom activities for 24 hours.
“We’re urgently asking for a dialogue to be established with the government to find a complete solution to the requests we have, especially in the health sector,” one teacher told reporters.
Fecode has insisted that the health services provided to teachers are in critical shape resulting in the suspension of treatment for cancer patients, the refusal to attend to urgent health issues and a lack of information about healthcare networks.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Yaneth Giha wrote on Twitter that her department is seeking solutions to improve the medical care available to the country’s teachers.
The government has said that nine of the 24 points agreed to in the past accord with the teachers have already been fulfilled, another nine have almost been fulfilled and the remaining six need additional work to be able to implement them.
Giha said that education is an essential public service, and thus teachers may not go on strike, as established in the final point in the agreement signed with the educators.