Are you serious about tackling poverty? Then be serious about education!

That’s the message behind a campaign underway in the Dominican Republic to make the government spend at least 4% of GDP on education.

The campaign’s being run by the Coalición por una Educación Digna (the Decent Education Coalition). Decent education – it’s a simple message, and they had a simple idea to get the message across: wear something yellow on Monday!

They did it for the first time on Monday, December 6th, on the streets of towns and cities across the DR; standing under the sun in front of the National Congress where the National Budget is discussed; and outside the Case de Gobierno, hoping to catch the eye of President Leonel Fernández.

People demonstrate on the streets of Jimani

Above: People demonstrate on Yellow Monday on the streets of Jimaní (this photo, and photo at top, also taken in Jimaní, by Progressio development worker Bolívar Sánchez)

Elderly woman campaigning on streets of Santo Domingo

Above: an elderly woman and the Director of Centro Juan Montalvo, Father Mario Serrano, campaigning on Yellow Monday on a street corner in Santo Domingo.

Below: Progressio and Christian Aid staff in Santo Domingo dressed up for Yellow Monday!

Progressio and Christian Aid staff in yellow t-shirts

And when the National Budget came out assigning only 2.7% to education, the coalition announced that every Monday would be a Yellow Monday, until the government meets its obligations. Because 13 years ago, under Leonel Fernández’s first presidential mandate, a law was passed saying that 4% of GDP would be set aside for education.

The people will not give up. At the first demonstration, people were waving their hands in the air and saying “why 4%, let’s ask for 5!” With such enthusiasm, who’s to say it’s not  possible? The Monday before Christmas is the second session of the National Congress – and I’m guessing it’s going to be a Yellow Monday again!

Vita Randazzo is a Progressio development worker in the Dominican Republic. Another Progressio development worker, Mariana Barrenese, is working with Centro Juan Montalvo, one of the main actors in the 4% initiative.