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Argentina: State support for people’s rights

With regard to education, three key laws were approved that finally met the long-sought-after demands of the teacher unions’ confederation, CTERA. Firstly, the Law of Educational Financing brought investment in education up to 6 per cent of GNP – it is now at 6.4 per cent –; Secondly, the Law of Vocational-Technical Education; and thirdly, the new National Law of Education, which repealed the previous law decentralising and privatising the sector, thereby placing the State once again in its role as protector of the right to education.

In addition, President Cristina Fernández’s administration saw the introduction of the universal child benefit, which recognises all minors in the country as eligible for financial assistance by the National government, not just the children of employed workers. This is another great advancement toward the necessary social equality which CTERA has always championed.

Furthermore, successful union negotiations were able to secure a minimum wage and better working conditions for teaching professionals nationwide.

More than 1,000 schools have been opened since 2003, though the country is still in need of many more. Free netbooks are given to every secondary-school student, helping to close the gap on educational inequality.

No surrender

CTERA General Secretary and EI Executive Board member, Stella Maldonado, perceives some similarities between the crisis in Argentina a decade ago and the current situation in Europe.

For Maldonado, it is thanks to the resistance of the whole country, especially unions and social organisations, that Argentina has now a Government steeped in that struggle and is able to recognise its people’s wish for a better life.

“Just as the internal market was driven by active policies developed by the State in 2009, this new crisis rightsof the capitalist system will also be met head on”, Maldonado stated.

She added: “Only by responding to the interests of the people, as opposed to the business of speculators, will we have fair, egalitarian, and democratic nations.”

Maldonado also offered CETERA’s full support to the efforts of workers and their organisations all over the world in their resistance to the harmful cuts on public funds: “There are alternatives to what is being proposed. As the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo say: The only fight that is lost is the one that is abandoned.”