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Major crisis in Colombian higher education- professors and student on hunger strike!!

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Dear comrades,

our friends from Universidad Caldas in Manizales Colombia have made this video to draw attention to the extremely bad situation in Colombian higher education, which has reached a stage that urged some of the professors and a student to begin with hunger strikes.

Universidad Caldas is tightly connected to Memefest. For years there has been an operating local Memefest node. Regularly students have been participating in the Memefest Friendly competition, we have been there four times and had the opportunity to do some of our best workshops ever with the amazing students and staff. Universidad Caldas has the only doctoral program in Design in Colombia and organises one of the major design conferences in Latino America, the Festival de la Imagen at which several Memefest members presented.

Our collaboration with Universidad Caldas and other Colombian Universities has been crucial in building our network and knowledge through the years and we are deeply concerned with the current developments in Colombia., which seem to be the result of radical neoliberal capitalist politics.

This is a call to the president of Colombia Ivan Duque!

PLEASE SHARE THIS video and this written information in English through your networks. It is very important to get international attention for this issue!!

Since last Tuesday, October 16, Juan Carlos Yepes Ocampo, professor of the University of Caldas (Universidad de Caldas), is on a hunger strike to call attention to the crisis the Public Higher Education in Colombia is currently having. This strike was joined by a student and three professors from different regions of the country: Luis Fernando Marin Rios, professor at the University of Quindio (Universidad del Quindío); and Adolfo Leon Atehortua, former director of the Pedagogical University (Universidad Pedagogica) in Bogota. In addition to the hunger strike, the academic community is carrying out other activities to support this cause including "a human cordon", national mobilizations and a march of torches. The professors are asking the National Government to establish a National Intersectorial Dialogue and Agreement Table with the Ministry of Labor, Education and Finance. Its aim is to promote dialogues with students and teachers to find possible solutions and agree on a larger budget for public education in 2019. The crisis that the Public Education in Colombia is currently facing is due to their current financial situation, as the Ministry of Finance allocated 55,000 million pesos (around 24,661,000 AUD) as a budget for 32 Public Universities in 2019, which in budgetary matter has a minimum growth knowing that it has 500,000 million pesos (around 224,066,020 AUD). In addition, public budget is being allocated to other programs of private institutions. The Minister of Education and the Vice Minister of Basic Education have already invited to a dialogue and some of the professors have stopped the hunger strike, but Professor Juan Carlos Yepes Ocampo, who has already lost 6 kilograms and has an increasingly worse health condition, says he will not stop the voluntary hunger strike until the Ministry of Education and Finance also calls to the dialogue. He also asks for the composition of the table, its methodology and the agenda to be clarified and requests possible solutions to the economic crises of Public Universities to be studied. Is it really necessary to have to reach these instances so that the Government can listen to teachers and students and make a fairer distribution of resources? Should not dialogue with teachers and students be a compulsory activity when decisions are going to affect the Public University?


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