The Socialist 15 February 2002 |
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Free Education Now! International Socialist Resistance Day of action 15 March
THE INTERNATIONAL Socialist Resistance (ISR) conference held in Brussels on 15 December, decided to launch an international campaign for free education.
Bart Vandersteene, International Resistance, Belgium
An international day of action will be taking place on 15 March. This is to coincide with a European Council meeting in Barcelona, which will discuss education in the European Union.
The European Round Table (ERT) is the biggest business lobby-group, consisting of 45 European multinational leaders with assets worth 550 billion euros (the equivalent of twice the Gross National Product of France).
They complained back in 1989 that European governments spent "too much" on students who do not pass exams or who follow "useless" classes.
The bosses moaned that young people study "too long" before they can work for them, they are "too critical" and have to be "re-educated" when they arrive in the workplace.
The so-called democratisation and expansion of education in the 1960s was necessary for the capitalists to fulfil the need for more skilled workers. The development of new, more advanced production methods made it necessary to open universities for working-class young people.
But today, with their profits under pressure and chronic unemployment in many countries, bosses think that "too many" students want to follow higher education. They think the money spent on higher education is wasted if it produces an unemployed highly skilled workforce.
Over the last few years there has been a common tendency worldwide to prepare education for privatisation and commercialisation and give courses a pro-business slant. The Bologna agreement, signed by 29 European ministers of education, is designed to prepare European universities for "competition" with the US and Canada.
In Europe the bosses see part of this competition with the US as "opening" the education system to the market, with less state intervention and more big business control. In the US state funding of higher education has fallen from 50% in 1987 to 34% in 1999.
Attacks on education have been taking place across the world and resistance from teachers and students against these attacks has been growing.
There has been an occupation of students in Canada, against deregulation of education. Last year 200,000 students marched through Madrid with their teachers and parents against the privatisation of education in Spain. In Russia teacher's strikes over pay are growing. Students there now have to pay fees for higher education.
Students all over the world will be confronted with further attacks on the education sector. Higher fees, student loans, limitations on student numbers, privatisation of services, are concrete measures that every student will be confronted with.
The struggle against these attacks will have to defend the right of everyone to a democratic and free education.
Join the 15 March action against the commercialisation and privatisation of education.
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There are many reasons why students in England and Wales should take part in the Free Education Now! campaign.
By Clare James
The introduction of tuition fees and abolition of the student grant in universities in 1998, has forced many working class students out of higher education. And those who do go are forced into low pay 'McJobs' to try and survive and left with huge debts from student loans.
Further Education is continually under attack, with services being privatised, campuses closed down and a general lack of resources.
Schools are also hugely underfunded and New Labour are looking to big business to 'help' run services (in exchange for a nice profit at the expense of students' education). 40% of teachers leave after only three years in the job.
Our education is in a mess; it is our future that governments and their big business friends are playing with. Education should be a right, not a privilege.
Get organised, join the half-day education walkouts on 15 March.
Building For The Walkout
- Pick a college/school or university in your area which the walkout will centre on.
- Decide what time the strike should start.
- Issue a press release to local newspapers, TV and radio to announce the walkout and keep in touch with them in the run up to 15 March.
- Plan action and events in the local area to let people know about what is happening. Try and get students from other colleges involved. Organise lobbies of your local MP, information stalls and publicity stunts.
- Trade Unions and Students' Unions should be app-roached as soon as possible to try and get support for the walkouts and ensure no students are penalised for missing lectures.
- The college which the walkout is being built in, should be leafleted regularly so students know about what is happening and are confident to take part.
- Ask students who are willing to help organise the strike to form an organising group. Also try and encourage students to organise regular canteen meetings in the run-up to 15 March. This is so everyone can have a say in how things will be run on the day; i.e.: where students should meet up, will there be a rally / demonstration, if so where should that be etc.
- Governments across the world have dictated to us long enough about what kind of education we should have and how it should be run - it's time we had our say.
- Strike for a decent, free education for all!