BOGOTA – Students, professors and officials of Colombia’s universities marched in several cities to demand that the government earmark more funds for education.
“The country’s main problem is that it doesn’t have a state policy for public education and for the General System of Education. The government and universities must work together to establish such a policy so that we will no longer need to fight every year for the education budget,” said Dolly Montoya, the chancellor of the National University of Colombia.
Several days ago, Montoya warned that her institution, Colombia’s largest public university, lacks funds to pay for this and next year’s salaries, and she highlighted on Wednesday that additional funds are also needed for research, community outreach, social innovation and activities in science and technology parks.
This is the first major demonstration during the administration of President Ivan Duque, who was sworn in two months ago and who said Wednesday that the government has earmarked 39 trillion pesos ($12.61 billion) for education in 2019, “the largest education budget in the country’s history.”
“I understand the anxiety of youths. I understand their demands. I understand them because they want to receive an education designed for the fourth industrial revolution. But we have found it hard to satisfy all of those wishes in the eight weeks since this administration began,” Duque said.
According to experts’ figures, higher education in Colombia faces a $1.03-billion deficit for operating expenses, and public universities also require nearly $5 billion in infrastructure investments.