From IPS by David Vargas, June 13, 2008:

ASUNCIÓN, Jun 13 (IPS) – After nearly two decades of apathy, the university student movement in Paraguay has made a comeback, demanding a law to grant them rebates on public transport fares and opposing a draft law on higher education reform.

Both issues are the focus of draft laws currently under debate in Congress. In the last few months students have demonstrated, marched, barricaded roads and boycotted classes to put pressure on lawmakers to vote on the proposals before Jun. 30, when the current legislative period ends.

The protesters have been demanding approval of special tickets for university students, which would halve fares on public transport for some 150,000 students attending public and private universities.

The lower house of Congress has already passed the draft law, but the students announced they would keep up the pressure until it makes it through the Senate.

The other bone of contention is a controversial proposal to reform the higher education system, which has been under consideration in parliament for two years. The students are against the reform, alleging that it would restrict their participation in decision-making and undermine the autonomy of the country’s universities.

Paraguay has five public and 16 private universities. The largest is the state National University of Asunción (UNA), with a student body of 33,000 and some 2,500 professors.

This country of six million people has one of the lowest access rates to higher education in Latin America. Less than three percent of children who enter school are estimated to go on to university after 12 years of primary and secondary education[…]

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