Chilean teachers from all over the country met Thursday for a massive march in the capital city of Santiago.
80,000 Chileans March to Legalize Medical Marijuana, Regulate Recreational Use
Mario Aguilar, president of the Chilean Teachers Association said they have already prepared to extend its national strike into next week if no adequate response emerges from Chile's Ministry of Education.
"This will continue as long we remain without answers. We are already preparing the second week of demonstrations since we have had no signal from the government, but we hope they will realize this conflict has to be resolved, and that a resolution depends on them," he said.
The march attracted more than 75,000 people from all over the country according to numbers provided by the teacher's union.
Carlos Ramirez, a language teacher who works in a school in the Coquimbo region expressed his concerns about the precarious conditions that teachers are forced to work under.
"We have a lot of pressure on us, and problems between the Department of Education (DAEM), the city, and the teacher. Also, we want to end short term contracts; teachers should have standing contracts," he said.
Doris Vial, an English teacher in the town of Puren in the province of Malleco said that local problems are compounded by national priorities, which the union is demanding that the government address.
"Many colleagues have died without receiving their severance, the so-called historical debt. In our area there are several schools that have problems like rodent infestation, flooding whenever it rains — and in the south rain is frequent — so there is a real infrastructure problem affecting our schools," she said.
This national walkout coincides with the changes to the curriculum announced by the Ministry of Education where the arts, history and physical education would become optional starting next year. Many teachers and students came out to demonstrate against this decision.
The Ministry of Education made an announcement on the strike Thursday:
"What we hope is, along with maintaining an ongoing willingness for dialogue by Ministry, that teachers return to their classrooms. We have to put the entire focus of education in the classrooms. The doors are always open for dialogue but strikes are incompatible with that," said Raul Figueroa the country’s undersecretary of education.