The administration of Roberto Micheletti thought nothing of ending the school year more than a month early last year to clear out the public schools so the military and police could take them over to hold their flawed election last November. This year, various days have been lost to protests and, most recently, to a two-week strike.
In this situation, the Lobo Sosa administration's Education Minister, Alejandro Ventura, just made an absurd suggestion:
It hurts us to say this, but its preferable to cancel the school year from September on, because the teachers are acting irresponsibly.
Really?! If the teachers are acting irresponsibly, how is it responsible to the students to make the irresponsible suggestion that the government just cancel the rest of the school year?
What is behind this questionable proposal is a labor dispute that the Lobo Sosa administration could settle.
A confederation of teachers' unions, the Federación de Organizaciones Magisteriales de Honduras, has been out on strike the last two weeks because the government is two years behind in its payments to their retirement fund, and is up to three months late in paying the monthly salary of 3000 teachers, among other issues.
It is not that all the teachers all over Honduras are out on strike, but there's a large contingent of them protesting in Tegucigalpa.
As a result, for the last two weeks, many, but not all, schools have been shut, children not receiving classes. The government says about 2 million students are affected.
The protesting teachers have been peaceful, but the security forces have been disproportionately violent of late. Over the weekend the Assistant Security Minister threatened more violence against the protesters if they block the streets, a common tactic in Honduras, that he said interferes with the citizen's right of free passage.
There are many other paths forward that would have better educational outcomes than canceling the school year. Suggesting canceling the rest of the school year is a political response, not one made by someone acting responsibly towards Honduras's students.
Instead, the Education Minister is considering issuing a decree declaring a state of emergency, canceling the remaining school year, and beginning procedures to fire the striking teachers. Here again the disruption of normal constitutional order last year echoes forward: having developed a habit of suspending normal constitutional protections by using the "state of emergency" claim, the Honduran government seems to see it as a solution for all problems.
Not one that will ensure students get the education they deserve. Not one that will settle the debts already owed to teachers. Just one that would allow unilateral elimination of opposition in an undemocratic manner.