2011 Colombian student protests

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Poster against the superior education reform. It says: "No to the reform of #30 law".

The 2011 Colombian student protests was a student protest movement in Colombia. The protest begun as a reaction against a planned reform on the education system in Colombia. On November 16th the reform project was withdrawn from the parliament of Colombia, with student leaders referring to the decision as a victory for the movement.[1]

Student leader Jairo Rivera have claimed that Colombian education is drifting toward "the Chilean model" something he warned against and said that "the Chilean model is the one to not follow".[2]

2011 Colombian student protest and 2011 Chilean student protests leaders have announced a joint bi-national student protest for November 24 of 2011.[3] Chilean newspaper The Clinic have pointed out that these two student protests have in common that they broke out in the only two South American countries ruled by right-wing presidents.[2]

Causes and antecedents[edit]

Superior education reform proposed[edit]

The superior education reform project proposed by the government of Juan Manuel Santos and María Fernanda Campo, its education minister, wanted to modify the #30 law of 1992 which organizes the superior education in Colombia. The project was first presented to some colleges' rectors on march 10 of 2011 and was popularized the next months in college community. The project wasn't well received by educative union since it didn't guarantee to universities the necessary resources for its good development.

Profit Universities[edit]

Between 2001 and 2010, three million six hundred thousand high school graduated students couldn't take superior studies. In order to fix this problem, the reform proposed to create new superior education profit institutions. It was the most controversial point of the project. The university community argued that, in others countries as Brasil, which already introduced this model, the quality of the education remarkably decreased although the range has increased. Multiple protests were made against the profit universities proposal, one of them the april 7th massive protest. Because of these protests, the government abandoned the idea of profit colleges on August 23rd. However, the college community was against the whole reform.

College credits[edit]

The reform considered an increase on the college credits investment through the Instituto Colombiano de Crédito and ICETEX. Credits which would be returned when students end their studies and get a job, all with the possibility of a debt forgiveness if excellent grades would be achieved. Since only private universities accept credit students, college community criticized that point because, in its opinion, it would harm the public education.

The April 7th protest[edit]

Students marching on April 7, 2011 against the proposed education reform

The first massive protest of unions, masters and students was on april 7th of 2011 during the Juan Manuel Santos' government. The protesters demanded a master's, pensioner's and employee's salary raise and an improvement on working and union rights. Also, they rejected the above mentioned superior education reform among other reforms such as some companies privatization. The protests were made on national territory and had a great participation: every public university, some private universities, the Organización Colombiana de Estudiantes (OCE), the Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios (FEU) and a lot of more education unions.