By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The delay of the transfer of funds from the Rio de Janeiro state government has postponed the return of classes at the Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ) indefinitely. This is the fifth time university officials have decided to postponed start of classes related to the second semester of 2016, due to the state’s current financial crisis.
Calling it the ‘largest funding crisis that UERJ has ever experienced in its history’ university officials released a note on Thursday about the postponement.
“In early January, the Rectory of the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro decided to postpone the beginning of the 2016/2 classes, based on the lack of minimum conditions necessary for its full functioning, as well as the non-payment of scholarships and wages by the State Government… After two months and seven meetings the situation remains unchanged,” said the note.
The state’s Science, Technology and Innovation department, responsible for UERJ, issued a note stating that the financial issues have already been sent to the state’s Finance Secretary, responsible for the transfer of resources.
“The department made a commitment to meet the main demands presented by UERJ (officials) at the meeting with the governor [Luiz Fernando Pezão], such as the reestablishment of the cleaning, security and food services. The department is willing to sit down with UERJ to renegotiate contracts and reestablish essential services to enable the recommencement of classes,” said the note.
The first semester of 2016 only started for students last year at the end of August, after teachers and university staff promoted a strike that lasted 170 days. In November, university staff once again promoted a strike which has not yet ended.
The state is one of the many facing dire financial problems to pay their public servants, including state university employees. In June of 2016 Rio de Janeiro’s acting governor, Francisco Dornelles, declared a financial emergency in the state weeks before the start of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Since then state officials have tried to obtain federal resources and even went to the private sector for relief of their financial problems.