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Government in Argentina orders further cuts in education and science

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Government in Argentina orders further cuts in education and science

Buenos Aires. The government of President Javier Milei has made drastic cuts in education and science. This is part of their effort to reduce the state budget to a minimum.

The real wages of workers and employees are at their lowest level in over 20 years fallen. In December alone the decline was 13 percent. This is due to the devaluation of the peso immediately after the government took office, the increase in tariffs, the lifting of fixed prices for gasoline, gas and electricity and the subsequent skyrocketing of inflation.

However, the government is denying the teachers’ union the usual collective bargaining at the beginning of each school year, so that the income of teachers and school staff falls even further. It is currently still the summer holidays, but classes are scheduled to start again in the next two weeks. Currently advises the union about a possible strike.

In addition, the central government, in its dispute with the provincial governors, also completely allocated the money for corresponding funding pots painted has. Milei blames governors for rejecting his “enabling bill” (America 21 reported). This affects, among other things, the fund for the support of teachers, which is intended to support them, especially in remote areas in the provinces, as well as the funds for school meals. The latter is particularly serious because, especially in times of crisis like the current one, schools make an important contribution to feeding children in poorer areas. This is often an important reason why families send their children to school and not to work.

However, the core electorate of the right-wing government is also affected, as fees for private schools have risen sharply due to the abolition of state regulations. Many middle-class families are currently finding that they can no longer pay school fees, even though they remain heavily subsidized. Many parents are forced to send their children to state schools, which increases the pressure on them even further. However, the government had a bonus of 70,000 pesos (about 78 euros) per school child for the purchase of school materials for students in private schools, despite the massive cuts for the poorer classes approved.

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But universities and state scientific operations are also affected. The budget for universities was frozen at last year’s level. From November 2022 to November 2023 fraud Inflation is around 140 percent. Between December and January alone it rose by 52 percent, so the cumulative annual inflation is already at 252 percent. The frozen budget will only last for a few months.

The situation is similar with the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (Conicet). This is a self-sufficient institute that coordinates universities and research institutes and supports research projects with scholarships and funding. An important part of its task is the scholarships for researchers and doctoral students, with which many academics have expanded or specialized their studies abroad for decades. Here too, the budget was at the previous year’s level frozen.

There were already 49 people in the administration dismissed and the results of 1,600 graduate student scholarship competitions suspended.

Last Wednesday, a floor of the Godoy Cruz 2290 building, central headquarters of the Conicet, was temporarily closed occupied. The occupation developed after a demonstration and an unsuccessful conversation with the institute management. After hours of peaceful occupation, despite a heavy police presence, the institute management committed to guaranteeing 600 of the original 1,300 scholarships. However, only from August and not from April. There was no news of layoffs. “This is a step forward in the fight and therefore also a reason to continue organizing and mobilizing. In Conicet, no one is expendable. In Argentina, no one is expendable,” says a post from the occupier group.

However, due to the overall situation, there are fears that there will again be an exodus of academics and technicians, as was the case during the military dictatorship and the crisis in 2001.

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