The Education Minister and the teachers organisations of Honduras should as soon as possible resume discussions on the future of the Honduran public school system. Their dialogue should be based on mutual respect and should aim at improving quality education for all children. This was the message conveyed by EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen at a press conference in Tegucigalpa on 27 April.
He denounced the decision of the government to unilaterally change the teachers’ salary structure, to revoke the check off system and to dismiss the teachers’ leaders from their teaching positions. Van Leeuwen said that these measures were in conflict with international labour standards and that Education International would therefore file a complaint with the ILO.
He also expressed concern about a $ 50 million cut of the national education budget and plans to introduce tuition fees as well as a disputable teachers’ appraisal system.
“The public school system is about to collapse,” according to Edwin Oliva, President of COLPROSUMAH, one of the five teachers’ organisations which work together in the national teachers’ federation FOMH. “The government has stopped providing transportation, school meals and learning materials, and it no longer pays the water and electricity bills of our schools.” The unions criticise the government for taking these measures without proper consultation with the teaching profession.
The relationship between the teachers organisations and the public authorities has further deteriorated by allegations made by the Education Minister Marlon Escoto against the teachers’ organisations. In the media he has accused the teachers’ leaders of being “corrupt” . He has also called them “pigs”. EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said that Mr. Escoto’s behaviour and his refusal to resume a dialogue with the Honduran teachers will not help resolve the most urgent educational problems of Honduras where more than eight hundred thousand children are not attending school, while the drop out rate in primary education is 20 per cent.