Civil Society Organisations Support Student Mobilisation

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Colombian civil society organisations grouped in the Patriotic March and Open Council have declared their support for the mobilisations of Colombian students and teaching professionals against Juan Manuel Santos’ education reforms.

Colombian students have been mobilising against the proposed reforms to Law 30 for several months. They oppose proposals to introduce market mechanisms into higher education, and which aim to privatise the universities. This, they argue, would transfer the costs of education onto Colombian families, which would be forced to go into debt in order to fund the education of their children. They also reject the influence that the reforms would give private enterprise in determining curricula and the overall strategy of education in Colombia.

The Patriotic March, which groups together social organisations representing students, indigenous people, afrocolombians, trade unionists, peasants and women, argues that the student movement in Colombia represents an alternative social project which opposes the neoliberal agenda of Juan Manuel Santos’ government, as can be seen in the violent repression of the student’s demonstrations in which one student has been killed, dozens injured and which has seen police arrest several student leaders in the south of the country. Students have also been accused in the media of being infiltrated by terrorists, and of instigating violence against police.

According to the Patriotic March, the reality is that the measures included in Law 30 cut off the possibility of families emancipating their children through education, and therefore link the student movement to the broader social movement for change in Colombia. The Patriotic March calls on the people of Colombia and “its democratic and popular sectors to take on this the central fight of all Colombians for the right to a free and high quality education, as an indispensable element of the general transformation of our country.”

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