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Mexican president seeks to reassure teachers on education bill

Mexico City, Mar 21 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that his administration is committed to abolishing the educational overhaul enacted under his predecessor and urged teachers to end protests that are preventing Congress from addressing the issue.

“I reaffirm my commitment to cancel the poorly-named educational reform,” the head of the leftist Morena party said during his daily morning press conference.

On Wednesday, the lower house of Congress suspended a planned debate on Lopez Obrador’s education bill after members of the militant CNTE teachers union blocked the entrances to the chamber.

Thus, the Thursday session was also suspended and debate was postponed until March 26, the leader of Morena in the lower house, Porfirio Muñoz, said on Twitter.

Lopez Obrador recalled that during the 2018 presidential campaign, he promised to cancel the revamp of education carried out by Enrique Peña Nieto.

“To be very clear, I have always fulfilled our commitments. And we are consistent,” he said.

The CNTE has expressed dissatisfaction with Lopez Obrador’s approach to the issue, claiming that the administration is offering only cosmetic changes instead of scrapping all of Peña Nieto’s education policies.

The president called Thursday for “public and quality” education and said that “there is no reason” for the CNTE to act in the way they have done so far.

“I do not know what motivates this movement and I want this issue to be discussed openly,” Lopez Obrador said, while adding that there will be no “repression” of the protests.

At the same press conference, Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma said that authorities have been working for months on a new educational plan to replace the Peña Nieto initiative.

He presented a program of about 30 points and said that he will listen to the teachers’ views on the issue, adding that no punitive evaluations for teachers will be made and a new “teaching law” will be created.

Learning will be the basis of all education and outstanding teachers will be promoted based on knowledge and skills, he said.
Increased labor rights will also be promoted.

In the end, he said that the government will seek to make education “comprehensive, intercultural and multilingual” and it will vary according to geographical needs and differences, among other points.

“This is what’s in the bill that the committees of (the lower house of Congress) are about to discuss to repeal the education reform and give birth to a new public education regime. Because the best is yet to come,” Moctezuma said.

The CNTE developed its confrontational tactics in opposition to Peña Nieto’s educational overhaul, which teachers saw as an attempt to make them scapegoats for the shortcomings of chronically underfunded schools.

CNTE members, who are concentrated in Mexico’s poorest states, objected in particular to hiring, continued employment and promotions being conditioned upon educators’ performance in compulsory evaluations.

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