If the Internet Was Declared Essential Public Service, Why Not Education?

Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago. Rector of the University of CEMA. Member of the National Academy of Education. Academic Counselor for Libertad y Progreso.

EL ECONOMISTA – The Government declared on August 21, through DNU 690/2020, “essential and strategic public services in competition with cellular and fixed telephony, Internet and pay television.”

Within the recitals it is stated that “art. 75 of the National Constitution establishes that it is a non-delegable duty of the State to ensure the right to education without any discrimination, as well as to guarantee the principles of free and fair state public education “, and it is added that,” for its part, the The Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has constitutional status, establishes that the States Parties recognize the right of the child to education and must adopt measures to promote regular attendance at schools and reduce school dropout rates. This legal mandate, in the current health context, can only be guaranteed through the use of ICT, having transformed these into an irreplaceable tool to make the right effective ”.

This note proposes, based on the aforementioned recitals, also declaring education an essential and regular public service, therefore, the right to strike in the activity. I have made this proposal in four columns that I have published in this same medium, as of April 2017, based on the same arguments as those made in the recitals of DNU 690/2020.

Let’s see the facts. How can we not remember the long educational strikes in the province of Buenos Aires? How can we not feel ashamed of the more than 100 days of unemployment in the province of Santa Cruz? Who can think that the days lost are made up? Who can imagine that a child who attended classes every other day, in the middle of a rarefied climate, could learn something? Of course, children from humble families were the most affected, to speak of equal opportunities in the face of this reality makes no sense.

As an example, let’s imagine two young people who finished their secondary education in the province of Buenos Aires in 2018. One of them attended a public management school and the other attended a private management school. Can we say that they were equally qualified to enter a university or enter the world of work? The objective answer is no. The young man who entered a public school in 2013 missed 84.5 days of school during the six years of her schooling.

As the recitals of DNU 690/2020 point out, the Constitution recognizes the right to education, for example, in its article 75, by incorporating the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Wasn’t this right clearly violated in the examples I have developed? Who can maintain that a young person who has been deprived of more than 80 days of classes during his secondary schooling has the same opportunities to develop in the knowledge society in which he has lived, as a young man who has had classes normally ?

By virtue of this, I have proposed on numerous occasions to define education as an essential public service. The teacher unions obviously reject it, relying on conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association established that education is not an essential service, since its interruption would not endanger the life, safety or health of the population.

However, the lives of many young people who have gone through their education within a system in which they are virtual hostages, has been irretrievably affected, in the same way that it is today that of the many boys and young people who are not receiving education in under the health tragedy that we are experiencing.

Isn’t that reason enough to define education as an essential public service? At the end of the day, if based on the same considerations we declare the Internet as an essential public service, why not education?

Source: https://eleconomista.com.ar/2020-09-si-se-declaro-a-internet-servicio-publico-esencial-por-que-no-a-la-educacion/