TEGUCIGALPA – The Honduran school year began Feb. 9 with a strike by teachers demanding payment of back salaries for some 2,000 educators.
Yet the strike did not keep Education Minister Marlon Breve from announcing the school year underway at a school in Valle de Angeles, some 20 kilometers east of Tegucigalpa.
The walkout was called by the Honduras Federation of Teachers’ Organizations, which is also demanding that President Mel Zelaya dismiss Breve from his post.
The teachers’ strike affects more than 2 million students.
Negotiations for the government to pay some 2,000 teachers their back salaries began in mid-2008, when educators began to stage street protests and walkouts.
The salaries owed to some teachers date back to February 2008, while others go back to July, union leader Milton Bardales told reporters.
The commissioner for human rights, Ramon Custodio, had offered to mediate the conflict in exchange for teachers not delaying the start of classes.
But the teachers did not accept the proposal and also criticized Custodio for promoting a referendum on whether to maintain or eliminate the Educator Statute, which provides multiple economic benefits for the sector.
The statute, according to the education minister, represents a heavy economic burden for the nation, which invests 38 percent of the government’s budget in education.
Some 52,000 teachers work in the public sector of Honduras.