Colombian government pledges extra $1.42bn to higher education

17 Dec 18

The Colombian government will increase its spending on higher education by $1.42bn over the next four years, in response to student strikes.

President Ivan Duque announced the extra money for higher education on Friday after pupils from 32 public universities protested against lack of resources. The strikes have stretched over 10 weeks.

The money will be spent during Duque’s four years in office. He became president in August this year.

Duque said in a video statement that the figure was negotiated in meetings between the government and representatives from student and teacher groups. 

The student protestors have clashed repeatedly with police during nationwide marches, obstructing traffic and public transport across the country.

Since coming to office, the president has promised to improve higher education despite the Colombian government highlighting in September there was a lack of money for education, health and other social programmes in the 2019 budget.

The government is trying to make cutbacks, such as on the recruiting of new civil servants, to make funds available for these policy areas.

Duque said on Friday: “This agreement seeks not just the strengthening of the public education system but the firming up of resources – public universities will have more than 4.5 trillion [pesos - $1.42bn] during these four years.”

The student strikes have not yet been called off as groups say they will first discuss the deal with their members.

According to Reuters, public university officials estimate the system has a cumulative deficit of $5.7bn between operating and investment expenses. Education spending covers 16% - about $13bn – of the total national budget for 2019.

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