Costa Ricans are facing two days of strikes beginning with the various police forces today. Tuesday educators have been called out to protest a change in the educational calendar.
Expats can expect a traffic jam Tuesday as educators march to Casa Presidencial in Zapote. And incoming tourist might face another slowdown by the Policía Profesional de Migración y Extranjería similar to the one that took place a week ago when air passengers at Juan Santamaría airport were backed up in long lines.
The various police agencies include the Policía Penitenciaria, the Policía de Tránsito and the Fuerza Pública, as well as the immigration police. They are asking the central government to honor agreements to adjust salaries upwards. There are salary agreements dating back to 2009 that the police and the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados say have not been honored.
Teachers have been called to gather at Plaza de la Democracia at 9 a.m. Tuesday. This is the normal meeting day of the Consejo de Gobierno, the president’s cabinet, so teachers plan to present a petition at Casa Presidencial. Leonardo Garnier, minister of Educación Pública, is seeking to create a three-semester school calendar to replace the existing two semesters.
Teachers also are unhappy with budget cuts, personnel policies and pay.
Although the principal opponent of the three-semester plan is the Asociación de Profesores de Segunda Enseñanza, the high school teachers, educators from all levels will march. The Magisterio Nacional, the umbrella organization, has been placing television ads to promote the march.
Education union leaders said that the change in the number of semesters is not negotiable. Presumably schools will operate with a skeleton staff if at all Tuesday.
Garnier has a detailed explanation of the three- semester pan on the ministry Web site. He said that since the 1970s the curriculum has been divided into three semesters and that under the current system vacations interrupt the educational process.
The proposal still allows for 10 weeks of vacation for students, and there will be no changes in pay for teachers, it said. The three semesters would vary from 13 to 15 week and they would be separated by two-week vacations, except for the five-week Christmas break from December through January.
The current Christmas break is seven weeks, and Garnier’s plan would make the school year longer but not add any teaching days. Classes would remain at 42 weeks. Additional vacation days would stretch out the calendar.
Mid-year vacation coming
Public school students begin their mid-year vacation next Monday. Students are off through Friday, July 15. A number of public and private entities have vacation programs planned for the youngsters.