Thousands of students are protesting in Mexico City and other parts of the country today to demand the payment of scholarships promised by the federal government.
Under the Benito Juárez scholarship scheme, the government pledged to provide financial support to students from low-income families who attend public schools.
But thousands of students say their applications for the scholarship have been ignored, while those who have been enrolled in the scheme claim they have only received one payment since the government took office almost seven months ago.
Isaías Chanona Hernández, leader of the Rafael Ramírez National Federation of Revolutionary Students, accused the government of providing false information about how many students are receiving the scholarships.
“In the face of thousands of students in precarious situations, the federal government has shown itself to be insensitive because it hasn’t provided real solutions to the education problem. On the contrary, it falsifies data and declares that more than 80% of students who asked for a scholarship have been granted one,” he said.
The federation’s spokesperson, Betsy Bravo, blamed the government’s budget cuts and said that a lot of students have indicated they probably won’t continue studying in the next school year due to the financial difficulties they face.
Protests were held this morning in the zócalo, Mexico City’s central square located in front of the National Palace, and at 1:00pm today an estimated 15,000 students demonstrated outside the Secretariat of Public Education, which is also located in the capital’s historic center.
Earlier today, a group of students marched down Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’ most emblematic boulevard.
In addition to demanding the unpaid scholarship funds, students are appealing to the government to complete repair work at schools damaged in the two powerful earthquakes that hit central and southern Mexico in September 2017.
Teachers taking part in today’s protests claimed that some of their colleagues have been unfairly dismissed and that cuts to their salaries have affected their ability to support themselves and their families.
Other cities where students are protesting to demand the payment of the Benito Juárez scholarship include Mérida, Oaxaca and Durango.