Parents are still camping at one of the 59 schools being closed down by the Puerto Rican government as part of deep cuts in public spending. The fight has been going on for 70 days at the Jose Melendez de Manati school, where 92% of the students live in poverty. The parents say that the government is not carrying out its duty to educate children and they are being punished for being poor. The encampment is surrounded by placards demanding that the government keep the school open: 'There is no triumph without struggle, there is no struggle without sacrifice!' reads one.
The school takes children from the age of four and the students too are at the encampment, painting banners: 'This is my school and I want to defend it'.
As we reported last month, a group of hedge funds is demanding that Puerto Rico sacks teachers and closes schools, so that it can repay the huge debt it 'owes' them. The 34 hedge funds, who bought parcels of the country's debt, commissioned former International Monetary Fund economists to produce the proposals, which said that the country's education system was 'massively overspending.'
The teachers union the FPMR, has called for a mass demonstration of parents, students and teachers on 23rd August. The union says that in the capital alone there are about 700 teachers with no posts, while there are also thousands of children with no school places. Moreover in the schools which are staying open there is overcrowding, with classrooms built for 25 pupils, now taking 35, and the curriculum is being reduced, with creative subjects, health and physical education particularly being cut.