Costa Rica’s public universities have declared an “active strike” in protest of what they say is inadequate government funding. While the country’s higher education institutions will continue with classes this week and next, they have programmed a series of activities to bring awareness to their financial situation.
The strike comes after intense negotiations between university rectors and the central government that ended in stalemate when the government refused to offer the 11 percent budget increase that universities were requesting. President Laura Chinchilla’s administration called the university rectors’ requests unreasonable and offered a 4 percent budget increase instead.
“The accusation that our proposal is unsustainable is surprising because there has been an enormous sacrifice in other priorities such as citizen safety, the day care network and infrastructure and, on the other hand, a large issue of tax evasion,” the National Council of University Rectors declared in a press release. “It’s precisely these institutions of higher education that support the state in these areas.”
Chinchilla denied the claim that her administration closed negotiations, saying, “The government maintains its willingness to continue in dialogue.” She said the strikes and protests “were premature” and that the two parties need to work harder at an agreement.
University leaders have asked that professors suspend all exams, presentations and evaluations for Tuesday, Aug. 17, so that students can take part in a scheduled march on Casa Presidencial.