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Costa Rican students continue protests over public education programs

Costa Rican high school students demonstrated Monday in front of the Rofas Building in San José and closed educational centers in different parts of the country to show their discontent regarding the educational measures — specifically, FARO tests and dual-education — promoted by the government and the Legislative Assembly. 

The Secondary Student Movement (MEDSE) said that 305 schools had been closed. In contrast, the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) indicated that 86 of the 1,003 day schools were closed Monday morning.

The MEP said that of the 86 educational centers where demonstrations were held, 45 schools were completely closed and another 41 managed to reopen thanks to the dialogue and negotiation processes that took place in coordination with the National Board of Children (PANI) and the Ministry of Public Security.

Semanario Universidad asked the MEP for a detailed list of the closed educational centers, but as of publication, the list had not been delivered.

For its part, MEDSE affirmed that the closure of the centers occurred in the schools of Bijagua, Ciudad Quesada, Concepción, CTP of Quepos, CTP of San Isidro, CTP of Pococí, San Isidro de Heredia, Puntarenas, Puerto Jiménez , Los Chiles, among others.

During the morning, students from schools such as Liceo Luis Dobles Segreda, Liceo de Costa Rica and Colegio de Señoritas protested outside the Rofas Building and then moved to the Legislative Assembly.

On the reasons that motivated the movement, the general secretary of MEDSE and student of the Lyceum of San José, Manuel Ramírez, affirmed that they want “a moratorium of one year of the FARO tests because we do not have the exam’s topics and are five months away from the tests.” 

The obligatory FARO exams would represent 40% of a student’s final marks in certain grades.

Regarding the topic of Dual Education, students maintain contradictory positions, noting discontent with becoming “cheap workforce” but recognizing the importance of Dual Education.

Protests announced

On Friday of last week, MEDSE students announced they would close educational centers as a protest measure, rejecting an agreement signed Thursday by the new Minister of Public Education, Guiselle Cruz.

The MEDSE student leader, Kenneth Sánchez, said MEDSE does not agree with point six of the agreement signed with Minister Cruz, which commits students not to close educational centers or school lunchrooms.

“We put it to a vote. The bases agreed except in point six, which says that schools will not be closed. It is going to a demonstration and schools are going to close,” Sanchez said. 

According to Sanchez, they made this decision to prevent teachers from applying future sanctions.

“We also want to make ourselves feel and that the Government sees that we are united”, he said, though there is little evidence suggesting this group represents a majority of the country’s students.

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This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on July 15, 2019. It was translated and republished with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report at Semanario Universidad here.

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