San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Following strike-ending agreement, public schools (slowly) return to normal

An Education Ministry (MEP) report released on Tuesday morning indicates that of 3,751 public schools in Costa Rica, only 613 were functioning normally on Monday, while 1,394 were partially operational and 1,744 remained closed. The report was compiled from information sent by school principals and MEP superintendents on Monday night.

An agreement on Monday helped bring an end to a month-long nationwide teachers’ strike, and MEP officials on Tuesday began rescheduling classes and planning agendas, Education Vice Minister Rocío Solís said.

“MEP experts are evaluating curriculum to determine what will be included on national graduation tests,” Solís added.

The vice minister again asked students and teachers to go back to school. But some schools hadn’t been cleaned or used in weeks, and classrooms, bathrooms and other facilities were too dirty to hold classes.

MEP’s vice minister of institutional planning, Miguel Ángel Gutierrez, said that despite low attendance numbers on Monday, officials remained upbeat, expecting attendance to return to normal on Wednesday.

The ministry’s human resources department also is working on improving a payment plan for back wages and errors, and officials say they will be able to respond to future payment complaints within 72 hours after receiving them.

As part of a strike-ending deal reached on Monday, a blue-ribbon commission will be formed by members of teachers’ unions, the education minister, MEP’s director of human resources and a representative of the Finance Ministry. The group will oversee salary payments and other issues during the next 12 months.


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