Argentine High School Students Struggle Against Education Reform and Precarization of Work

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Source: La Tinta / The Dawn News / September 18, 2017

Over thirty high schools of the city of Buenos Aires are currently being occupied by students who oppose the latest education reform.

It began like a wave. A few weeks ago, student assemblies decided to occupy a handful of high schools after debating the latest education reform and the lack of institutional response to cases of gender-based violence. In the following weeks, like many times before in previous years, more high schools were occupied by their students and joined the protest. The so-called “School of the Future” is a reform that seeks to include high school students into the workforce by establishing mandatory internships, and also eliminates the mandatory nature of high school education. If the government manages to implement this reform, high school students would be working for free starting in 2018.

Last September 6 a multitudinous march took place. Students and teachers gathered outside the headquarters of the National Ministry of Education and marched to the Ministry of Education of the Autonomous CIty of Buenos Aires to reject the precarization of public high schools.

The Education Ministry of Buenos Aires issued a guide that encourages people to denounce the students and outlines potential judicial responses. According to the guide, students could be accused of the crimes of violation of trespassing and unlawful appropriation of property, and the contravention of Article 58: entering or permanence of people in a public or private space against the will of the holder.

Amnesty International responded with a habeas data addressed to the head of government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and to the City’s Education Minister, Soledad Acuña, to request information on the instructive guide that the ministry issued. The NGO expressed “concern over the possibility that these actions could be considered as crimes or contraventions, a sign of the criminalization of the students’ right to participate that is incompatible with the rule of law where people have the right to demonstrate and make demands to authorities.

This attempt to criminalize the occupations, intimidate students and judicialize teenagers who are exercising their right to protest, enshrined in the National Constitution, and also the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is nothing else than another repressive action by the local and national government, to enable the submission of public education to the logic of free market.

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