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Mexico's teachers protest against new law

Thousands march in capital the day after bill introducing mandatory teacher evaluations is signed into law by president.

Last Modified: 11 Sep 2013 19:10
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Teachers are angry that they are seen as blocking educational excellence in Mexico [EPA]

Thousands of teachers are back on the streets of Mexico City a day after the president signed a controversial education reform bill into law.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed the final part the education reform bill into law on Tuesday, in a move that infuriated teaching unions who have fought the bill from the outset.

The reform, finalised on Tuesday, introduces mandatory teacher evaluations for the first time, which unions considers a violation of workers' rights.

"In the application of the education law there won't be a step back, rather we will make sure we move forward faster," Pena Nieto said as he signed the law.

Al Jazeera's Adam Raney, reporting from Mexico City on Wednesday, said the teachers were trying to build momentum for their cause.

"They're unhappy that this law even made it to this stage, that it is enacted," he said.

"They're unhappy that they will be evaluated in the future by an independent commission and they are unhappy that they are being seen as this force that is blocking educational excellence in the country.

"Although they fill the streets right now day after day in Mexico City, across the country most Mexicans actually believe that teachers are impeding educational progress.

"So they feel that they want to show people that they care about education and that this reform bill is a bad idea."

Paralysed city

Thousands of members of a dissident teachers union, the CNTE (National Confederation of Education Workers) flooded into Mexico City to protest the reform.

The demonstrations have paralysed various parts of Mexico City for nearly a month, including temporary blockades to Mexico's International Airport, Congress and Reforma Avenue in an attempt to put pressure on the Mexican government to not implement the bill.

The government argues the unions had too much control over the hiring of teachers, and accused it of abusing the system by selling and inheriting teaching positions.

Starting in 2014, teachers will be recruited through open tests.

Mexican schools have higher relative costs and worse results than any other in the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Much of Mexico's educational dysfunction is attributed to the relationship formed more than a half-century ago between the Institutional Revolutionary Party and the teachers' unions.

The unions gained increasing control of the education system in exchange for throwing their strength behind the government in the voting box and on the streets.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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