“The public university is in mourning”, so the marches of the university students

Nearly 40,000 university students across the country protested to demand changes in the funding model and against the Ser Pilo pay program.

From very early on hundreds of students from different universities readied their banners to go out to march through the streets of the main cities across the country in defense of public, free and quality university, as agreed at the National Student Meeting (ENNES), celebrated in March, in which it was decided to carry out a student strike from April 24 to the 25 of the same month.Around 9 o’clock in the morning, in Plaza Francisco de Paula Santander of the National University of Colombia (UNAL), students from different faculties began to congregate. With chants, they began a walk around the headquarters in search of more classmates. to join the initiative, “partner, voyeur, join the heap,” shouted through the halls of the buildings of the institution.

At the exit of 26th Street, the university students left for the key point of their meeting, the Icetex. In the march the students of the UNAL, the Free University and the Superior School of Public Administration came together. Later they would be included the District University , the Pedagogical and the University of Cundinamarca.

“I am a student and I want to study to change society”, was what most young people repeated. Throughout the journey many of them wore skull masks and others carried cardboard headstones in which they could read epitaphs such as “here the not-so-pilos suffered” or “Rest in peace the Icetex, shine for him the perpetual debt”, in representation of mourning for the death of the public university.Upon arriving at the institution of educational credit, the congregation filled the surroundings in the Park of the Journalists and for several hours they remained there in the midst of the speeches of student leaders who cited the points for which they continue to struggle: education as a fundamental right and well financed by the state, accreditation with guarantees, transformation of the National System of Tertiary Education, recognition and payment of historical debt of the government with the IES, autonomy belonging to the university communities, among others.

A few weeks ago the ENEES had been held, which welcomed around 2,000 students from different public universities in the country and discussed the issues that today have in check the sector as the indebtedness of thousands of students with Icetex and different financial institutions, the poor access to higher education, the precarious financing of public universities, the Income Contingent Financing System and now the Ser Pilo Paga program is added to it.

According to the figures, around 87% of the credits given by the Icetex are aimed at students who enter private universities and 12.58% for public ones. And of the students that are part of the Ser Pilo Paga program , according to figures from the Ministry of Education, 82% study at private universities and the remaining 18% access a state public education institution.For Angie Aguirre, member of the University Student Federation (FEU), this march was made in order to make visible the struggle that is being made from the student unions for the defense of public education and reflect the social injustice that is experienced from the education, even more in the electoral period “so that the next government understands what it should and should not do,” he said.

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