Police clash with striking teachers in southern Mexico
Mexican police have clashed with protesting teachers attempting to reach the central square in the southern city of Oaxaca, ahead of the country’s Independence Day celebrations.
Police on Friday used tear gas to prevent the teachers from reaching the administrative center of the city. Fireworks were also set off during the clashes, in which several injuries were reported.
The teachers, who work with the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union, are against education reforms by the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto.
They say the reforms pave the way for the privatization of the education industry and will result in inadequate education for rural and indigenous students.
In 2013, the president introduced a major reform package for the education system that includes a census to establish the exact number of schools, teachers and pupils in the country, and would require all teachers to undergo job performance evaluations.
The reforms were backed by major political parties and approved by congress and the majority of legislatures in Mexican states.
The main goal of the reforms is to improve the country’s public education system and increase educational achievements of students.
Mexican students are notorious for their high rate of dropouts and absenteeism, while schools are said to suffer from major shortages, from electricity to toilet paper.
Mexico’s public education system is reportedly under almost total control of two powerful teachers’ unions, the CNTE and the government-leaning National Education Workers’ Union or SNTE.