On Wednesday and Thursday, June 22nd and 23rd, teachers and students from Villa Fiorito’s Instituto Superior de Formación Docente (ISFD) N° 103 demonstrated in the streets to demand safety, among other benefits for the educational tasks of the institution they belong to. Thefts are common in the neighbourhood, and the institute has taken its own security measures, such as finishing classes at 9:15 p.m. instead of 10:00 p.m. But enough was enough when eight-armed people violently tried to get inside the facility on Tuesday night, beating and threatening students with guns to steal a motorcycle.

For that reason, the students and teachers decided to hold a peaceful protest on Wednesday to make their ignored claims heard. Yet, they couldn’t get to their destination. Before reaching La Noria bridge, the police brutally repressed the protesters with rubber bullets, tear gas, beatings and arrests. “We are students. We are not doing anything. Instead of chasing those who rob us, they are shooting at us. We are tired”, a woman who attends ISFD 103 declared in front of the cameras.

As a result, people marched again on Thursday. Not only to repudiate the violence of the previous day or to continue their request to end insecurity in the area, but also to emphasize other needs, such as a building in good condition for teaching, bus stops in front of the institute’s doors and a free ticket for mobility. “They promised us several things. We are going to see if they fulfill any of them (…) we are waiting to see if they respond. They said yes to everything, but we are still waiting”.

Public education in Argentina

The country’s educational system has not been academically competitive for a while, and the COVID-19 pandemic did not help. Due to the sanitary crisis, students lost about a year and a half of academic classes. Not to mention the suspension of lectures in certain parts of the nation due to lack of heating during the cold months.

As a result, the latest APRENDER evaluations (carried out in 15,913 public schools out of a total of 19,638) show a significant deterioration in the comprehension of texts, which complements the statements of the current minister of education, Jaime Perczyk, that there are third graders who do not know how to read and write. Thus, the country’s public education is going through a critical moment.

Nevertheless, a teacher arrested on Wednesday said after being released: “These situations of detention, police abuse and outrage do not debilitate our goal of defending public education. We want to make clear that the community of 103 and the entire educational community is fighting for public education. In the worst conditions, we organised soup kitchens during the pandemic and garnered money for students to load the SUBE (Argentine’s ‘Pay as you go’ card). We make a tireless effort every day so, from time to time, thieves steal our money and belongings with no corresponding governmental organism taking action. It is a problem that they always fill us with promises, but there is no solution. The educational community as a whole said enough is enough to this situation. (…) We cannot continue teaching in these conditions. And the students cannot continue in this way either. They make an effort, and many have had to leave (school), not because they don’t have enough to travel or eat, but because of the thefts. So we call on the educational community to continue and redouble efforts to solve these issues in a comprehensive and definite way. Let’s step up the fight for public education. The victory is ours”.