Thursday, May 07, 2015

Teacher's Strike

This was what we saw on the way to our office yesterday, all the way down to the university. 

I have to admit I feel a little apprehensive whenever I see riot police around, particularly because this street is just a couple blocks from our kids' schools, but everything was peaceful in the end.

The public school teachers have been on strike for a few weeks. They are severely underpaid, and the infrastructure is severely underfunded. This is particularly frustrating when government officials in the ministry of education make exorbitant salaries.

This morning while walking Gabe to preschool we passed a bus and a group of people standing around; I heard two women address each other as "compañera" ("companion" or "comrade"), and based on how they were dressed and other cues I figured they had been part of the strike yesterday; so I asked one of the women if they were marching again today. "No," she said. "They sold us out yesterday so now we're going home."

Everyone who can afford to here sends their kids to private schools. As do we. For those who can afford them, there are incredible schools in this city - schools with links to the top universities in the world, fully bilingual education, equipped with baby grand pianos and ballet classes. It's sobering to see the vast gulf between those elite institutions and the bare cinderblock walls and overcrowding of the poorest schools.

It seems like the main aim of the police yesterday was to protect the Transmilenio system and keep it running. I was thankful that when I went to pick up Gabe from school there was no tear gas to contend with. I fully support the aims of this march. Inequality in education just reproduces inequality in society, and traps people in unjust systems.

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