Politically-Motivated Government Funding Cuts Harm Jesuit University in Nicaragua

BY ISN STAFF | January 18, 2019

The Jesuit University of Central America Nicaragua (UCA) received dire news earlier this month when the Nicaraguan Technical Secretariat of the National Council of Universities (CNU in Spanish), the government office responsible for distributing funding to the country’s universities, announced it would reduce the UCA’s disbursement by more than 25%. The funding, which is constitutionally-mandated, was reduced for all other universities at amounts no greater than 2%. The UCA detailed the contrasting disbursements in a report posted on the university website on January 9, 2019, identifying the exact amounts that each university entitled to federal funding will receive.

A university statement sharing the news of the reduction of funding noted that the reduced disbursement will “significantly limit” the scope of the university to fulfill its mission of teaching, research, and social projection. The statement also noted that the cuts will be a “serious blow” to the university’s ability to serve students from vulnerable backgrounds, including those in grave economic need and from remote rural regions.

“The UCA will not stop supporting these more than 2,000 students who have the right to graduate here at the university because they started their studies,” said Fr. José Alberto Idiáquez, S.J., president of the UCA, in a recent interview with Canal del Orgullo Nicaragüense.

The UCA has demanded that the CNU review the disbursement and equally distribute the reductions to each of the universities, rather than minimal reductions to all universities except for the UCA.

A Protest in Managua, Nicaragua in August 2018.

Since the socio-political crisis began in Nicaragua in mid-April 2018, the UCA has played a pivotal role defending human rights, particularly supporting young people seeking to call attention to the unjust policies and anti-human rights tactics implemented by President Daniel Ortega and his administration. In addition, Fr. Idiáquez has been a key leader in the effort to call for national dialogue to resolve the political challenges and work toward peace.

“The application of a budgetary reduction by the Ortega administration based on political criteria is not only unconstitutional,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, “but stands to cause irreparable harm to Nicaragua’s future by limiting the UCA’s capacity to educate young men and women and serve as a place of critical thinking, discovery of truth, and freedom of expression in Nicaraguan society.”

The Jesuits of Central America responded to the announcement with a statement of support for the UCA. Noting that the university has been receiving constitutionally-guaranteed funding at pre-2019 levels since 1990, the Jesuits affirmed the UCA’s commitment to fulfilling its mission of “servicing faith and promoting justice” through creative research, quality teaching and ethical and communal social outreach. The full statement, originally published on the Association of Jesuit Universities of Latin America on January 9 in Spanish can be found below in English.

Statement of the Society of Jesus in Central America on reduction of the state budget for the UCA of Nicaragua

January 8, 2019

  1. Offers unfailing prayers towards a new and different 2019 for Nicaragua. That the reconciliation urged by Pope Francis this last Christmas be fruit of a dialogue that reestablishes the rule of law, all constitutional liberties, guarantees the human rights of the population, and reverses the process of economic destruction that, according to experts in the field, the country is currently being dragged through.

    2.  Expresses concern, both to the Nicaraguan people and to the international community, about the substantial reduction in the budget that the Central American University (UCA) has been receiving since 1990, and that the constitution guarantees it as a member of the National Council of Universities. The UCA is recognized as an active and positive participant in the struggle of a 6% of the national budget allocated annually by the state to the development of higher education, with the purpose of integrating and benefiting as many young people of limited resources as possible that they may further their professional preparation.

    3. Reaffirms that the UCA, since it was established in 1960, and in coherence with its humanistic vocation, has been fulfilling the mission of “servicing faith and promoting justice” through creative research, quality teaching and ethical and communal social outreach.  The UCA is an academic center that focuses all its efforts in contributing effectively to the good of the country and to the education of the professionals and technicians on whom the country relies to build on that good.

    4. To the education community and to the authorities of the UCA, it pledges solidarity with the inevitable effects that substantial budget reductions will have in its capacity to service the country.  Moreover, in harmony with the international support that universities and Jesuit institutions around the world have been offering, attests regret that ideological prejudices and biased political interests be in a position to damage the capacities of an academic institution that, inspired by the ethical values of Christianity, is committed to putting reason, science and knowledge at the service of the human development of Nicaragua.

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Mission of teaching, research, and social projection justify the vocation and meaning of an educational enterprise.


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