San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Former Education Minister Leonardo Garnier blames old system for backlog in teachers’ salaries

Former Education Minister Leonardo Garnier on Wednesday evening said that a backlog in payment of public teachers’ salaries did not originate from the transition to a new computer system, but rather from problems caused by the old payment system.

Garnier took to Twitter and other social media to address ongoing criticism that holds him responsible for the wage problems that caused a national strike that began on May 5.

“It is true, there are teachers who have not received their salaries since February and March, but mostly, there are teachers who did not receive wages for extra hours in those first months. For decades, even though teachers begin to work in February, they received their first payment in May or even in June. This is unfair, of course, and is an inefficient system. It violates the right to receive salaries. … But that has been the reality at MEP,” Garnier stated.

“It makes no sense to blame a transition that seeks to leave behind an outdated and fragile system that has caused many problems for educators and for the government itself.”

Garnier said the decision to migrate to a new payment system capable of offering a lower margin of error was analyzed for five years by experts from the Education Ministry, the Finance Ministry and Civil Service.

Garnier also said that ministry staff received extensive training and conducted a total of nine tests between the old and the new systems before completing the migration in April.

“The transition worked well for most teachers, but not for all of them. Only 1,409 of the 75,000 MEP employees were not paid at all; and some 6,000 received salaries but were not paid for extra lessons. To solve the problem, we scheduled two extra payments to be delivered during the first half of May,” he said.

On Wednesday evening, current Education Minister Sonia Marta Mora asked some 3,000 teachers who have not been paid to visit any of the 27 MEP regional offices starting Thursday to begin the process to receive back pay, following an emergency protocol implemented by the ministry.

“We are doing everything we can to resolve this issue as soon as possible. There is a group of MEP officials working exclusively on this starting tomorrow [Thursday], and we expect the first payments to be made within hours,” Mora said at a press conference.

Payments will be made via bank deposits once the administrative procedures outlined in an agreement between the Costa Rican Banking Association and the Finance Ministry are concluded.

Teachers’ union leaders, however, on Wednesday evening responded to the government’s offer by saying the strike would continue until all teachers are paid.

The National Association of Educators (ANDE) posted a message on their Facebook profile asking members to attend a 9 a.m. meeting on Thursday at Napoleón Quesada School in Zapote, next to Casa Presidencial, to discuss the government proposal.

ANDE President Gilberto Cascante said unions on Friday will meet with government officials at 3 p.m. to discuss the results of Thursday’s actions at MEP.

Earlier on Wednesday, President Luis Guillermo Solís again asked teachers to return to the classrooms.

“Enough is enough with this conflict. The proposal we made is reasonable and it was not the first. We already have offered eight or nine proposals, and now there is no plan B,” Solís told reporters. “If protests continue, we will proceed as needed to avoid public disorder.”

Contact L. Arias at

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Ken Morris

I don’t have any interest in defending the new system, about which I know nothing, but Garnier is right to note that delayed payments have long been business as usual for the ministry of education, and I’m glad someone has finally said this. Blaming the problem on the new software was itself a denial of responsibility.

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Nicole Brenes

Garnier is shameless. He has singlehandedly managed to bring down the MInistry of Education, collapse the system and walk out unscathed. He was a cancer to the educational system of Costa Rica. And the authorities lack the pants to actually make him pay for his corruption.

Damn you, Garnier! You were/are a DAMN PARASITE ! ! !

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Mark D'Andrea

Costa Rica = Organized Chaos = Business as usual…

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Don Blake

Don’t have the new system looked at by the Civil service….they are more stupid than you guys are….get outside help….ask the Chinese or the Americans or the British…..somebody who knows what the hell they are doing!!!……their should be no margin of error not a lower one….none! It is just a bloody payroll system……they have had them everywhere else in the world for 50 years!!!……Your not building a space ship….thank God…’s just a simple payroll system!

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Don Blake

For God’s sake….what is it with Costa Ricans and their total inability to take blame and responsibility for anything! Is it because you used to get into trouble with Mummy when you were little boys when you were naughty!!!….Whatever it is, grow a pair and man up!….the old system was your system… are the leaders so fix it and stop bloody moaning and blaming other people all the time you sad twats!!!!…..DO YOUR F’ING JOB!

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