The State, society and its leaders, neither in the past nor now have prioritized education as a real possibility of development, of social encounter and above all of greater equity and a better future for the poorest children and young people.

At the beginning of the government of President Duque, the financing of education in Colombia is an uncertain issue and there is still no substantive proposal that would allow.

The State, society and its leaders

Neither in the past nor now have prioritized education as a real possibility of development, of social encounter and above all of greater equity and a better future for the poorest children and young people.

In the financing of education and the resources that are allocated, the political and social importance that the States give to education is reflected, as well as the intentionality about what type of society and results in the social, institutional, cultural and economic tuition we want attain.

Those who govern, businessmen, technicians, academics, congressmen and even union leaders turn to the private system to educate their children. However, they discuss, diagnose and make proposals about the education and financing of others: the children of those who have less income and less cultural wealth.

This point is crucial when we compare ourselves with other more developed and equitable societies, cases such as Finland, Canada and the Scandinavian countries, where the educational system is public, universal and has the purpose of quality for all. There the government and leaders discuss, legislate and make decisions for their children.

In Colombia in official education, almost with intention, we have planned how to design and maintain an educational system for poor children that is characterized by being cheap and of poor quality.

It is enough to point out decisions such as the one taken in the 1970s to increase coverage using the educational centers of the time and their facilities (boards and desks) for up to three school days.

From then on:

Teachers went to work part-time (morning, afternoon or evening) and many got other jobs (IDEP studies in Bogotá show that about 25 percent of teachers work in various activities in the other part of the city. workday).

In addition, it was easy to pay them poor salaries, more than 70,000 teachers with only a secondary education were hastily appointed.

I clarify that this process of de-professionalization of teachers were decisions of the governments of the day, not Fecode. I estimate that about 50,000 of these teachers became professional in the 1990s in one-year or two-year programs, only attending massive courses offered by private universities on weekends.

In the official schools with half a school day, no school meals were required, nor areas for sports and recreation, less specialized classrooms and libraries. Until very recently, teaching and learning a second language was non-existent in official education.

At the end of the last century the only thing that mattered was to expand the coverage: chalk, blackboard, classrooms in poor condition and teachers. Governments, teachers and parents accepted that it was better for children to attend a cheap and poor educational institution than to leave them at home or on the street.

The objective was partially achieved

The country universalized coverage in primary education and advanced in the first years of secondary school, but with terrible results in quality.

In 2018, the problems of coverage in preschool, in secondary education and less in higher education have not been resolved; Furthermore, great differences remain between the education offered by official and private school institutions, or between urban and rural education, without forgetting the backwardness suffered by children from minority population groups.

The constituents of 91 tried to change this situation by establishing education as a right, with a decentralized financing system for education whose purpose, through rules, was to increase resources between 1992 and 2001, going from 28 percent of current income to 46.5.

Law 60 of 1993 regulated articles 356 and 357 of the Constitution, but it was only applied in the Samper government, because the next government, Pastrami, modified those articles of the Constitution and since then the financing of education has been linked to growth of inflation, that is, keeping the 2001 stock market for the education sector, plus one or two points above the price increases. 

From then on, the increases in current income obtained from economic growth, fiscal reforms or better management were not part of the financing of the education sector. Law 715 of 2001 and the subsequent ones sought mechanisms that allowed maintaining the resources of the educational system so that it functioned and improved its management and efficiency indicators, especially the teacher / student ratio per classroom, information systems, control and monitoring.

The governments’ goal focused on management and efficiency for the education system

Scarce resources for quality, quality is expensive, especially if it is for disadvantaged children. Neither did they propose the objective of advancing equity through educational spending, a decision that in education means more spending for the poorest.

This fiscal policy has been successful, current income grew, but social sector spending as a percentage of current income decreased from 49.5 percent to less than 30, between 2002 and 2018, a cut of more than US $ 100 trillion.