EDUCATION IN FOCUS
“The differences between the north and the south, regarding the state of schools, are historic. But nowadays we see that the situation, alarmingly, is worsening,” Rubén Berguier, a teacher and member of the Unión de Trabajadores de la Educación (UTE) teachers union, told the Herald.
According to a report published in 2010, in the north there are 1,168 public schools while in the south the amount totals 1,045. That gap expands dramatically when looking at private institutions — in the north, the number jumps to 1,025 versus only 505 in the south.
For history teacher Ricardo Spadea, a vice-principal of a secondary school in San Telmo who works in three other schools both in north and south, “Southern schools are more damaged, have less technological supplies, less furniture, and are in a more precarious state. The decline worsened under Mauricio Macri’s administration in the city.”
“The San Telmo school where I work receives students with unsatisfied basic needs. They live in poor conditions, many in occupied houses or settlements,” he adds.
Questioned about class sizes and spaces for students, Spadea says that in the south of the City, the problem is that there is no place for students who want to study in the morning shifts.
Most of the teachers asked by the Herald agreed that a controversial online system, brought in back in 2013 to register children for public schools, had made the situation worse.
“We have 12-year-old kids with no possibility other than going to school by night, with all the risks it implies, because of the defects of the system. There are not enough spots for everyone in the public system,” Berguier added.
Juan Manuel Mauro is a secretary and teacher at the Carlos Geniso public secondary school in Bajo Flores. He has worked there since 2002.
“I think the main problem we face is the situation our community is facing, with many kids without one of their parents (regularly in their lives), with mothers having to work many hours, with the neglect of the authorities, with hunger ... the conflictive identity of a neighbourhood such as Bajo Flores,” details Mauro.
“Institutional violence, gender violence, drug addiction, discrimination and marginality are facts that we have to deal with every day. So we as teachers are very committed to our duty and want to think that in Bajo Flores other things can also happen.”