Two education unions have been on strike for weeks now in Costa Rica, in an action that the government has declared illegal.

Teachers joined with other public employees in a national strike, protesting the government's tax reform plan that included measures to limit salary increases, bonus payments and severance packages for public employees.  The public sector unions presented an alternative bill that focuses on combating tax evasion and fraud; new and increased taxes on companies and banks that generate extraordinary profits; eliminating “luxury” pensions for former presidents; and reducing state financial support for political parties.

In face of students’ need to take a final standardized test (the “bachillerato”) to complete their high school education and enter the university, the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) has recently asked for “volunteers” to break the strike. Those who have signed up  include the  ex -president, Nobel Peace Prize winner Arias, ex-ministers and other politicians. Besides MEP’s clear intention of breaking the strike, this initiative of hiring strikebreakers is felt widely by teachers as a public humiliation. It is important to note this strikebreaking is not a new strategy and was used In Argentina by the Menem government and repeated by Macri in 2017.

Though the current administration is identified as leftist by many, its education policy is taken from the neoliberal playbook.  It aims to discredit educators and then fire them, having people untrained in education teach.

Note also that the  “Bachillerato” along with  other primary and junior high graduation requirements- was one of the World Bank polices imposed on Costa Rica.

Information contributed by Gerardo Barboza