Bankers say they will give a hand to help striking teachers

In an effort to get striking teachers off the streets and back into classrooms, Costa Rica’s government and the association of banks have mapped out an initial payment plan. Tuesday afternoon President Luis Guillermo Solís announced a program to reimburse the unpaid salaries for the portion of teachers who have received no wages in the last few weeks.

“Our authorities and the Asociación Bancaria Costarricense have devised a special payment mechanism for teachers that have not received their salaries,” announced the president through his Twitter account.

Rallying behind the Asociación Nacional de Educadores, teachers throughout Costa Rica are striking and refusing to work until they receive the salaries they are due. There is currently a problem with the pay system, known as Integra2, which was installed under Laura Chinchilla’s administration.

More than 13,000 teachers throughout the country have been affected by the failure, said Ana Magaly Mora Rodríguez of the teachers association, and only those who have not been paid at all will be helped by the banks. She added that association leaders would meet with government officials in response to Solis’ announcement. Demonstrations are scheduled for the rest of the week, including a grand march along Paseo Colón and Avenida Segunda Friday morning.

Sonia Marta Mora, the minister of Educación Pública, has warned teachers to not expect an overnight fix. She said the database has suffered from technical hiccups on multiple occasions but that no one under the previous administration had created a backup method to pay salaries.

During an address to citizens Sunday, Solís also faulted the previous administration for not taking more precautionary steps when creating Integra2.

“The lack of technical planning and erroneous political decisions have led teachers to the streets today demanding, rightfully, that they receive their pay on time,” he said.

The Asociación Bancaria Costarricense, which propelled the plan to compensate some of the teachers, is made up of most of the major private banks and financing firms in Costa Rica. Those teachers who have received no pay were told Tuesday to make their way to the banks with proper documentation and teaching certification to receive their salaries.

Still, thousands more are left waiting for their paychecks.

Government officials said they are working around the clock to fix the program errors. Tuesday a representative from the Ministerio de Educación Pública said the group is working with the necessary people to conduct studies on Integra2 to minimize future failures.

And through Twitter, Solís also offered reassurance that his administration is doing all it can to help the teachers. “I reiterate the government’s proactive will,” he said. “We are making every effort possible to build the solutions that the country needs.”

By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff


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