Approximately 500,000 people in Colombia participated in a nation-wide protest Wednesday, to demand a COP$4.5 billion raise to the budget for higher education and the liquidation of prior debts, in cities like Pereira, Florencia, Bogota, Medellin, Cali, amongst others.
In a peaceful manner, students and supporters closed major highways in cities like Bogota and Medellin.
This is the second of such protests led during the month of October, while more demonstrations are expected toward the end of the month.
The recently-elected President of Colombia, Iván Duque, in the wake of the protests, announced a new investment of US$1 billion in education during the next few years, “This is an effort that we must make, all of us, to strengthen higher education in Colombia’s regions.”
The budget increase is not enough to satisfy the COP$4.5 billion demanded by students.
This “imbalance” in the higher education budget is historically entrenched, as the Ley 30 (an education law enacted in 1992) stipulates an increase on the budget on a yearly basis, set according to consumer price indicator - a measure of inflation.
While spending has increased by 284 percent from 1993 to 2016, the budget has only grown by approximately 70 percent during that time-frame.
These protests come at a time when Colombia’s new government is juggling many fronts, one of them is the cease-fire with the National Liberation Army (ELN).