March 7, 2014
School year ends with more protests
After a long December full of complaints against City Hall’s new online registering system for the 2014 term of public schools, the 2013 school year came to an end yesterday with parents protesting outside the City Education ministry on Paseo Colón Avenue and still clamouring for the way in which their children have yet to fill a vacancy in their schools.
For many, a solution remains out of sight. But City Minister Esteban Bullrich has already promised he would stay at his desk all next month to work out a solution for each case.
Before that, he will probably face fierce questioning from the City’s General Ombudsman’s office and education workers union UTE-CTERA who separately filed injunctions before courts and got what they wanted: a public hearing on December 26 for Mayor Mauricio Macri’s administration to clarify the development and results of the newly implemented Internet system.
As the official directly responsible for the much-maligned system, Bullrich was summoned to take part in the meeting together with a complete and detailed report on vacancy assignments and irregularities.
Called to explain himself
The City’s General Defendant office asked Judge Osvaldo Otheguy in its injunction request to “summon Education Minister Esteban Bullrich to appear in the public hearing with the complete list of assigned vacancies, separated by schools and levels together with complete information about the available room in educational institutions at the beginning of the procedure”.
Legal advisers from the pro-civil rights public organization also stated that no data had been previously presented before courts on these issues by City Hall authorities.
“In case there is no room for these requests, the public hearing would have no meaning at all in the sense of bringing some calm, regarding the basic right to education being jeopardized by the new online registration system,” the City’s General Ombudsman’s office said.
With no response at all from schools or Mayor Macri’s aides, a group of parents marched on the local government’s offices downtown following teachers association Ademys’ call to protest against the web registration.
Then they headed to the City Education Ministry, located on Paseo Colón Avenue, where a number of street demonstrations have been taking place after the first assignments were published last December 9.
This latest demonstration came after days in which parents have been blocking roads to demand a change in the online registration system.
A common denominator during the meetings has been the greater distress shown on parents’ faces. And yesterday was no exception.
“I will stay in office during January to solve all irregularities,” Bullrich promised once again during an interview with Metro radio station.
He also anticipated that on Monday a complete list of the almost 3,000 cases of irregularities recognized by City Hall together with their corresponding solution would be ready.
“Truth is we had grown exponentially in demand and that is something to highlight in favour of the public school system,” he said.
The City education minister added that “We have granted nearly 57,000 vacancies and next March, we will be opening another 1,050 slots in the primary level through new schools”.
At the same time, Bullrich justified the new online system by the need to draw a map to identify where the major demand and supply are concentrated, later balancing them through new classroom openings.
“Irregularities may have taken place during the data-entry validation period,” the City official accepted when asked about why priorities weren’t respected in certain cases already stipulated in City School Regulations document like brothers and sisters going to the same school.
Bullrich vowed to correct it ahead of next year and also try to forward deadlines during the registration period in 2014 to avoid the uncertainty many families are undergoing in the middle of holiday celebrations.