Argentina marches for public education

published 26 April 2024 updated 6 May 2024

Thousands of people across Argentina rallied in defence of a fundamental pillar of their education system: public universities. Faced with a drastic budget cut of 70 percent and inflation of around 300 percent, the country’s public universities are in serious financial trouble.

In recent months, the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff in Argentinean universities have lost 50% against inflation. With funds that will only last until July, students and teachers are faced with uncertainty, not knowing whether classes will be able to continue in the second half of the year.

In response to this critical situation, the Trade Union Front of National Universities, formed by CONADU, CONADU Histórica, FEDUN, CTERA, FAGDUT, UDA and FATUN, together with the Council of Rectors and the Argentine University Federation, called a nationwide university strike and a mass federal march for 23 April, in support of public education and against the budget cuts.

The march, supported by trade union confederations, social movements, human rights organisations and political parties from all sides, turned into a historic mobilisation of the Argentinean people. In the city of Buenos Aires alone, around 800,000 people marched from Plaza del Congreso to Plaza de Mayo, where an official document was read out, highlighting the severity of the crisis affecting the country’s universities. Mass and diverse demonstrations were held across all of Argentina’s major cities.

Higher education as a right

The demands of the university community are structured around the five main points that have been raised with the government of Javier Milei since January 2024 but have not been addressed: the university budget, which has been left behind and not updated, the pay arrears and the freeze on salaries in universities, the cuts to scholarships and student support, the lack of funding for science and technology, and the standstill in the works on university infrastructures.

Carlos de Feo, general secretary of CONADU, an affiliate of Education International, said: “Today, with this march, we are demonstrating that we stand united with our people in the fight for the right to university, and for the right to a better future. (...) It is not by squeezing our salaries or freezing our budgets that they are going to intimidate us. We are determined, and we will fight as one for our universities – for our public universities.”

Education International expressed its solidarity with the Argentinean cause and its university community at this difficult time. EI General Secretary David Edwards expressed his support with these words: “From Education International, we extend our solidarity to the students, teachers and workers of Argentina’s public universities in their fight to preserve higher education as a right. We unite in solidarity with our educational community in Argentina, in support of public education and against the chainsaw wielded by Milei, calling for the voice of the people to be heard and for these devastating cuts to be reversed.”