VALPARAÍSO – Tens of thousands of teachers from all over Chile marched to Congress today. Elementary and secondary school teachers have been striking for weeks and demand action from the government. The teachers union spoke of an “historic march.”
The Chilean Teachers’ Association, one of the biggest teacher unions, has been on strike for weeks. Today, they marched to Congress in the city of Valparaíso, to meet with the Minister of Education.
Late May, the union declared a national strike over the ongoing problems in the Chilean educational system. The immediate cause for the strike was the announcement from the Ministry of Education some weeks earlier that in the 2020 curriculum classes such as History, Physical Education, and Geography would no longer be mandatory for Chilean high school students.
A Latent Conflict
Unease in the educational sector, however, has been latent for years in Chile. The limited labor stability teachers have, as they often work on one-year contracts with no right to a permanent contract, has been a theme in marches and strikes for years.
The inequality in salaries also weighs heavy: nurses or special education teachers in Chilean schools earn less than other teachers.
In addition, retired teachers are eligible for government bonuses, but often don’t receive them.
Now that the latest conflict has boiled over, hundreds of thousands of Chilean children are missing classes, as most elementary and high school teachers are on strike and marches are growing bigger by the week.
🗣️ 45,000 teachers marched in Santiago yesterday, and were joined by students who protested against the Aula Segura.
50,000 Students And Teachers
In the march today in Valparaíso, high school and university students, united in the Confederation of Chilean Students (Confech), also joined the demonstration.
The Teachers’ Association estimated that 50,000 people participated in the march.
— Colegio de Profesores de Chile (@ColegioProfes) June 11, 2019
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and made appearances on BBC World Services and ABC News during major events in Chile.