Oaxaca Teacher Protests

Rudolf D’Silva

Despite the efforts of the Mexican government to fix the education system in Oaxaca, Mexico, violence broke out after weeks of peaceful protests. The New York times reported, teachers in Oaxaca were protesting in reaction to education policies passed, which they felt unjustifiably led to the termination of a significant number of teachers (Ahmed, par. 21). According to government officials, in an attempt to reform the education system, legislation was passed in 2013 creating stricter evaluation standards for teachers to abide by (A 18). Teachers who did not meet these requirements were either fired, or received a cut in pay (A 18). Nonetheless, many teachers believe the government passed this legislation under the umbrella of education reform as an excuse to terminate large numbers of teachers (A 21). A significant number of parents and students living in Oaxaca believe it is the government who is at fault, and is using their authority to oppress the people of Oaxaca (A 5). However, there are few who believe teachers are reacting selfishly in protesting. Many of those who believe teachers are reacting selfishly indicate that education reform should focus primarily on benefiting students (A 23). These individuals also believe teachers partaking in the protest are doing a disservice to students, prohibiting them from receiving their education due to the protests (A 23).

Although the protests inevitably broke out into riots, what is most disturbing is the impact these riots can have on the education of Oacaxan students. The New York Times indicates that Oaxaca is one of the poorest regions in Mexico (A 8). It is often the case that those living in impoverish communities feel as though the government does not prioritize their well-being in relation to other political issues. These attitudes are strengthened by beliefs of government corruption and dishonesty, which many times are justifiable concerns. For example, in an article by Al Jazeera, the Mexican government reported, “the attacks with guns came from people outside the blockades who fired on the population and federal police” (Al Jazeera, par. 7). Surprisingly, it is further stated in the article that footage exists of Mexican police using guns on protesters in attempts to calm the riots (AJ 8). Whether or not it is justifiable for police to use deadly force to gain control of violent situations is an argument of its own. However, false statements, such as the one issued by the Mexican government about the teacher riots, contribute to continued distrust amongst the poor and the government.

Education is often viewed as a tool to provide people the skills and knowledge to lift them out of poverty. The element of violence associated to the teacher protests in Oaxaca has potential of creating an ideology that the government does not want to provide Oaxacans proper education reforms. The reason for this is to keep the people of Oaxaca uneducated, and easily exploitable. Whether this is actually the case is up for debate, however, this type of view of the education system is discouraging for those who may want to receive quality education in order to achieve great things in the future.

Works Citied

Ahmed, Azam, and Kirk Semple. “Clashes Draw Support for Teachers’ Protest in Mexico.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 26 June 2016. Web. Sept. 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/27/world/americas/mexico-teachers-protests-enrique-pena-nieto.html?_r&_r=1

“Mexico: Six Killed in Clashes during Teachers’ Protest.” Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera Media Network, 20 June 2016. Web. Sept. 2016. < http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/mexico-teachers-protest-160620042629755.html >

Semple, K. (2016, June 26). Mexican federal police officers clashed with teachers protesting an education overhaul and the arrest of two of their leaders in Oaxaca State on June 19. Credit [Photograph]. Agence France-Presse — Getty Images, The New York Times, Oaxaca In A. Ahmed (Author).

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