A handful of teachers have set up a tent-like structure mimicking the façade of a school in front of Argentina’s Congress building, after receiving permission from the government. The “inauguration” of the mobile school, which around ten teachers spent last night last slaving over, will be held today at 3pm. It will remain up on display until April 19.
The construction of the school represents the ongoing demand from teachers unions to have their wage negotiations held at the federal level. Currently, each province has to conduct wage negotiations individually.
Throughout the day there will be activities which resemble a school schedule: talks, pieces of theater and even some students supporting their teachers cause. The schools walls are plastered with slogans, such as “teach, resist, dream.”
- Read more: Teachers Go Back To Striking After Forceful Removal From ‘Mobile School’ In Front Of Congress
This is the second time in recent history that teachers have attempted to construct the mobile school. Last Sunday they gathered outside Congress to assemble the structure, but were stopped by security. Government representatives authorized police to take action to remove the teachers, who had allegedly failed to obtain a permit to occupy the space and were therefore breaking the law by setting up the tent in a public space.
The police response was notably forceful, using pepper spray, physical violence and arresting two teachers who allegedly refused to move. In response to their treatment by police, teachers went back to striking, for 24 hours.
Diego Santilli, City of Buenos Aires Deputy Mayor, defended last weeks decision, saying it was “the responsibility of the city government” to ensure “the safety of everyone” and so they “cannot allow for people to build something, in front of someones house…nor in any other public space, without permission.”
Now, however, after “presenting all the paperwork” required by the law, the mobile school is allowed to go ahead.
Buenos Aires provincial governor Vidal had also previously accused some factions of the teachers unions of being closed to a dialogue with the government. Esteban Sottile, speaking to La Nación, said that this was not the case: “at no point were we considering not entering into a dialogue. We were always ready to talk.”
Sottile also said that, in the last nine years, City government had reduced the proportion of the budget allocated to education — from 30 percent of the overall budget to 18 percent. For their part, the Macri administration claim to have increased teachers wages by almost 70% since coming into power.