June 8, 2015 / 3:08 AM / 2 years ago

Mexico to restate support for education reform - sources

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s government will in the coming days reaffirm its commitment to carrying out a key part of its education reform which was suspended in the run-up to elections on Sunday, officials familiar with the matter said.

President Enrique Pena Nieto came under heavy fire after the Education Ministry said on May 29 that its timetable for teacher evaluations, a cornerstone of the government’s shake-up of the education system, had been suspended indefinitely.

The move followed weeks of violent protests by dissident teachers’ unions, which had threatened to sabotage the elections, fearing the education reform would undermine their power.

Militant teachers attacked offices of the national electoral authority, staged blockades and clashed with authorities in southwestern Mexico on Saturday as thousands of police and soldiers arrived to keep order for the vote.

Sunday’s elections went ahead as planned.

In coming days, the government will quickly restate its commitment to the upcoming evaluations, possibly as soon as Monday, said two officials from Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), speaking on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the Education Ministry said he did not have any precise date for the evaluations.

The ministry’s late May u-turn, which government officials said was made at the behest of the Interior Ministry, did not placate the teachers, who staged a mass protest in Mexico City on Monday to have the evaluations scrapped altogether.

Supporters of the reform said evaluations are needed to improve flagging education standards and root out corruption in teaching unions. Defenders of the teachers say that many poorer ones lack the means to meet required standards.

Some PRI officials were highly critical in private of the suspension, which came just two weeks after Pena Nieto hailed the education reform as his government’s most important contribution to the development of Mexico’s economy.

Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie

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