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Guatemala: Town's oldest school to be demolished…and teachers on strike

Public school teachers in Guatemala will protest “again” today, and this time they will ask for “amnesty.” They want the government to eliminate the sanctions imposed on them, because they took illegal actions when they were “on strike”. Such illegal actions took place just before Holy Week break, which was the second time in the year. They were not asking for a better system or nicer schools, but for a raise of 12% in their salaries. This is a contrast with two situations:

1. In San Pedro La Laguna, a group of teachers are working for free, supporting a little school located in the middle of town, a school that the Mayor of San Pedro wants to demolish.

That was denounced [ES] by blogger and journalist Claudia Navas:

El alcalde de San Pedro La Laguna, Guillermo Magdalena Batz González, abusando del poder que le otorga la municipalidad, intenta cometer una arbitrariedad al pretender derrumbar la Escuela Oficial Urbana Mixta Humberto Corzo Guzmán, para construir en su lugar un mercado, con lo cual limita la posibilidad de muchos niños y niñas de estudiar, viola además sus derechos humanos y los de toda la población

The mayor of San Pedro La Laguna, Guillermo Magdalena Batz González is abusing his position in the municipality by arbitrarily trying to demolish the Co-ed Urban School Humberto Corzo Guzmán, and trying to build in its place, a market. This will limit the possibility that many children have to study, which violates their human rights and those of the entire village.

Her opinion is supported by Blogger Pablo on “depuis d´Europe [ES]” where he narrates the whole story and contrasts it with the protests of teachers.

El país ya tiene suficientes problemas, para venir a acarrear uno mas y este que es tan sin sentido (según mi punto de vista) de querer hacer un mercado en lugar de una escuela…”

The country has enough problems already for another one to be solved and this one is senseless (in my opinion) to build a market in place of a school

2. Even when they are “on strike” the Ministry of Education will give them PC´s for US$100.00 with Windows Software, and a lot of bloggers discussed the topic:

Javier Aroche [ES] said:

Es falta de visión por parte de las autoridades a cargo del proyecto, que bien pudieron optar por el uso de Software Libre y con el dinero ahorado en Software comprar más equipo. Lo que me da tristeza es que en realidad no exista un grupo de promotores del Software Libre que haya podido hacer esta propuesta al Gobierno

It is a lack of vision by the authorities in charge that they did not consider Free Software for the project, because with the savings they would have been able to buy more equipment. But I am sad because here there is no group promoting free software, that could have made a serious proposal to the government

This opinion is supported by the post of Ermita [ES]:

Para quienes creen que el tema de software libre y open souce es cuestión de filosofías o de extraños gustos informáticos, me pareció interesente continuar en la linea de presentar números interesantes para los tomadores de decisiones

For those who might think that free software and open source is just a philosophy or weird informatic tastes, it is interesting to show interesting statistics for the decision makers”.

Also, there´s a debate on whether they deserve or not the benefits of such system. Luis Figueroa [ES] said that if the government will sponsor those teachers that had been on strike, it would be a waste of money even when costs only US$100.

…si se les va a dar una compu a los maestros s que han estado en huelga, a esos que chantajean a los tributarios, a esos que hacen pancartas mucas, a esos que creen que tienen derecho a vivir del presupuesto del Estado…pues yo digo que darles compu a esos maestros, aunque sea una compu de US$100, es un desperdicio

In Albedrio [ES], the author argues that is absolutely absurd to think in a country lacking in public education that a modernization process and building capacities of teachers is urgent.

Es totalmente absurdo pensar que un país carezca de educación pública…La modernización de la institución y la capacitación de sus empleados son urgentes

So, the education scenario in Guatemala is: teachers are concerned about themselve worried about the Ministry giving them a raise, as well as an amnesty for their wrongdoings and cheap computers. On the other hand we have kids staying at home while they should be at a school, learning only with Microsoft software, and parents facing situations such as the one described by Bloggers in San Pedro La Laguna.

1 comment

  • Fabiola

    p.s. If you have ever worked in a public school of Guatemala and observed the situation first hand and discussed with teachers what problems they faced within the system then you’d understand and be a little more empathetic towards their struggle. For one, the teachers deserve a raise given their low salaries, need to support their own families, and send their own children to school and pay for their school supplies, refraccion, etc. because the government doesn’t give the schools enough money. If you were well informed about their movement then you’d know that the strikes weren’t just about a salary raise, they are about educational reform which includes of a list of different topics to be addressed that goes beyond their salaries. You shouldn’t only rely on the media to give you the story, you should listen to the voices of the teachers. After all, they’re the ones who are forced to deal with these issues on a daily level and then are pushed to march and strike to get these addressed.

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