Argentina schools to reopen after 3 weeks of strikes

Argentina schools to reopen after 3 weeks of strikes

BUENOS AIRES - About 2.5 million primary and middle school students will return to class in Argentina's biggest province Monday after 17 days of teacher strikes over pay.

The teachers union said on Saturday it had reached agreement on a 30 per cent salary hike.

Teachers had previously rejected a similar offer from the government as insufficient to offset rising inflation, which experts say was at 25-30 per cent last year.

The province of Buenos Aires, adjacent to the same-named capital, accounts for 40 per cent of the country's students and 36 per cent of its teaching staff.

Out of 826,500 teachers, 71 per cent work in public education, according to official data.

The teacher pay dispute, which comes up at the start of every school year, escalated this year amid spiraling inflation.

The accumulated cost of living increased by 7.2 per cent in the first quarter, according to an official rate calculated using new methodology, after a sharp 18 per cent devaluation of the peso in January.

Private analysts estimate national inflation in 2013 at about 28 per cent, and question the official rate of 11 per cent.

The academic calendar in Argentina runs from March through December.

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