Members of the CNTE teachers’ union from Michoacán have been camped out in front of the National Palace in Mexico City since Monday to demand that the Ministry of Education (SEP) give jobs to the 1,400 teaching school graduates it represents.
More than 230 tents have been erected on the capital city’s zócalo, or central square, as they await an answer from government officials.
Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma has responded that new teachers will be placed in schools based on demand and graduating does not necessarily guarantee a teaching position.
The union, historically one of Mexico’s most militant, has long demanded automatic job placements for graduates of the nation’s teacher training colleges, called normal schools.
The SEP announced that for the upcoming school year, 161,007 people have applied for the 45,000 vacant teaching positions. Moctezuma said that applicants have already gone through five of the seven steps in the hiring process and that the remaining two must be carried out in person when coronavirus restrictions are lifted, which is expected to be early next year.
He also stressed the importance of teachers, and that they would not be replaced by distance education, a strategy that will go into effect for the first few months of the new school year due to the coronavirus.
Moctezuma added that in future the number of students accepted into the colleges should be reduced to be more in line with the number of jobs that would be available once they graduate.
This year more than 100,000 applicants will not receive teaching positions because there simply aren’t enough jobs available.
Enrique Quiroz Acosta, the ministry’s head of legal affairs, said there is no room for negotiation regarding automatic hiring of teaching school graduates, and that jobs are awarded through public, transparent, equitable and impartial selection processes.
The teaching school graduates taking part in the protest say they will continue to camp out in the zócalo until their demands are met.