Mexican Teachers Protest About Education Reforms

There have been protests by teachers in Mexico about the new reforms that have been announced. Protesters wearing masks attacked buildings belonging to political parties in the state of Guerrero in South west Mexico. They used pick axes and sticks and started firs as well as spraying slogans on the walls.

They new reforms are based around a new teacher assessment system which aims to end the corrupt practices in the system. These included buying and selling of teaching positions.

The teaching unions are very much against the reforms, saying that they feel many teachers will lose their jobs. There are also critics saying that these changes look like they could be moving towards privatisation of the education system in the country.

The latest protests took place on Wednesday 24th April in response to a refusal to amend the educational bill by the Guerrero state legislature. Each state has to pass the constitutional changes.

There were dozens of protestors in the area of the PRI which is the local governing party as well as the PAN and PRD offices which have also shown support for the reforms. It is thought though that some of the gangs that are causing problems in the city are civilian self-defence groups operating in the state. They were recently formed and comprise of peasant and indigenous community members who have taken justice in to their own hands and started to form roadblocks and arrest people that they feel have been causing organised crime. With this group working together with the teachers, it could make the situation more difficult to get under control.

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Protestors have also attacked the senators office and state education department building where they broke windows and through computers, chairs and desks out of the windows. They also burned papers and sprayed ‘traitors of the people’ on the walls.

The teachers are part of the National Co-ordinator of Education Workers which is a radical teaching union. A spokesman, Minervo Moran explained that the protests were in reaction to aggressive politics which went against the unions proposals.

Cesar Camacho, PRI chairman explained that they needed to work hard to make sure that public order did not breakdown.

The reforms will include a census to find out how many school teacher and pupils there in the country. There will then be centralised process for the hiring, evaluation and promotion of teachers. The National Union of Education Workers had control over this in the past and it is believed that the education system currently has thousands of phantom teachers on its books. The head of the union, Elba Esther Gordillo said that her union is ready to attack any threats to the teacher’s job security. She has also rejected the proposal that teacher’s continued employment should be linked to an evaluation process. The reforms were agreed by the major political parties as well as Congress and most of the legislatures in the states of the country. It is hoped that the reforms will improve achievements of the pupils in a country where pre-primary school enrolment is very high but secondary education is only completed by half of students.

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