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Call for Int. Day of Action (Nov. 5th) Against Commercialisation of Education
international | anti-capitalism | news report Saturday October 11, 2008 10:41 by Mark C - Campaign for Commercial-Free Education - Pers. Caps. oscailt at indymedia dot ie
The International Students Movement for Free and Emancipating Education has called for a coordinated day of action, right across the globe, against the commercialisation of education and education spaces.
A call has gone out from the newly formed International Students Movement for Free and Emancipating Education for a coordinated day of action against the commercialisation of education and education spaces.
Here's a selection of planned actions, so far:
* Local news reporter will cover protest (walk-out of classes) at the University of Kentucky (U.S.A.)
* SDS (Students for a Democratic Society; U.S. of A.) will launch a national week of education and outreach on Nov.5th (http://illvox.org/2008/10/02/sds-national-week-of-education)
* A huge demonstration (aiming for 10,000 participants) is planned in Ontario (Canada); other provinces are organizing demonstrations as well + collecting signatures for a petition (70,000 after 6 weeks).
* Various groups across Germany (at least 5 cities so far) are preparing acts of protest; for example a flashmob in Mainz
* Various faculties at the Buenos Aires University (Argentina) are preparing protests --- a general assembly is being organized for Nov.3rd
* Demonstrations are planned in various cities across Turkey and Croatia
* Newcastle University Students' Association (NUSA) and Student Rep Council of the University of Sydney (both in Australia) will organize some protests on a smaller scale
* Activists will rally in Skopje (Macedonia) to protest.
Other countries where actions are in the early stages of planning include:
* Israel (maybe)
The day is being supported by the following groups:
Canadian Federation of Students - Ontario (CFS); [Canada]
Canadian Federation of Students - Manitoba (CFS); [Canada]
Regenbogen/ Alternative Linke (Hamburg); [Germany]
AStA der TU Darmstadt - students representative body (Darmstadt); [Germany]
AStA der Philipps Universität Marburg - students representative body (Marburg); [Germany]
AStA der Universität Mainz - students representative body (Mainz); [Germany]
Arbeitskreis kritischer Studierender (Kiel); [Germany]
SDS's Student Power for Accessible Education Campaign; [U.S.A.]
Youth for Community Academic and Development Services (YoCADS); [Liberia]
Reclaim the Uni; [Manchester, United Kingdom]
Campaign for commercial free Education; [Ireland]
New Democratic Youth (Yeni Demokratik Gençlik - YDG); [Turkey],
New Democratic Youth; [France] &
New Democratic Youth Europe (Yeni Demokratik Gençlik - YDG Avrupa)
attac France ; [France]
Bologna Section ffzg (Zagreb); [Croatia]
Sindikat Učenika i Studenata (Zagreb); [Croatia]
Newcastle University Students' Association (NUSA); [Australia]
National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP); [Philippines]
Universidad Catõlica del Maule (UCM); [Chile]
Movement for Social Justice - Lenka; [Macedonia]
Socialist Student Union - Kentucky University; [U.S.A.]
I have emailed the USI about the day but, so far, have not heard a response. I'm not a student myself anymore (now a teacher) so I don't know anyone in students' unions to contact personally to develop this. My hope is that this article will encourage other groups in Ireland to coordinate and work together towards a common goal - perhaps USI, WSM, SWP, SP, SF, GP, CPI, etc.
For my own part, I've finished an article entitled "Against Commercialism in Irish Education" which I will be submitting to indymedia.ie to make as a feature for the day and hopefully Campaign for Commercial-Free Education will come up with something also to mark the day.
Below is a transcript of the original call to action:
"International Day of Action against the Commercialization of Education"
(5th November 2008)
Student activists from various countries who are all struggling against tuition fees, the increasing influence of profit-driven companies and corporations on universities and the privatization of Education in general launch this international Call. During the last year alone, hundreds of thousands of students, teaching staff, parents and workers struggled together across the world to defend free public higher education for all. University buildings were occupied, roads blocked and petitions signed.
A list of student and teacher protests against the commoditization of education (and the resulting tuition fees) for the year 2007 can be found here: http://fading-hope.blog-city.com/international_student_protests_2007.htm.
A similar list for 2008 can be viewed here: http://fading-hope.blog-city.com/students_protest_worldwide_against_commercialisation_bologn.htm Currently students in Chile, the Philippines, the U.S. of A., Spain, Germany, Austria, Canada, New Zealand, France, England and other countries are struggling against the commercialization of education. Since 1999 most governments in Europe have been using the Bologna Process to challenge the status of education as a public good. Consequently the Higher Education systems in Europe are getting more and more linked to private instead of public interests! Officially the process is suppose to improve the international recognition of degrees, increase the mobility of students and aims - just like every country in this world does as well - for Europe to become the most competitive economy on the world stage.
Usually reforms are promoted by promising more "autonomy" for universities and an increasing quality of education. But with more competition between institutions a process of selection is encouraged.
The commercialization of education results in universities being run like companies: students are being reduced to customers (no more democratic participation, be it by students or teaching and technical staff) and employees will be exploited. With increasing competition between institutions the creation of two-class education systems is being encouraged. One class will consist of the "fortunate" who passed a money-driven selection process or are "high potentials" for the labour market. The majority of students will have no choice but to go to those institutions that lose out in the competition with huge financial problems. Why should the private sector finance an education system that benefits the whole society anyway?
Education is too important to be exposed to market forces and private actors. Education should not be a commodity, but a right for all!
In support of free and emancipating public education
All over the world students are fighting to preserve or gain emancipating education, so that people are able to consider their social environment critically. Of course governments and economic actors have no interest in providing such education. People who are able to critically reflect their environment are less likely to be influenced and controlled. That's why it is up to the people to make sure that such a free and emancipating public education system is implemented. It is in our own interest as active citizens of the world!
We shouldn't tolerate that education systems are being reduced to companies "producing" human capital for the labour market. We are not "resources", but human beings and citizens! All these are reasons why we reject the privatization and commodification of education all over the world. It is not conformable with a truly democratic society.
Education must be accessible to all, and not be tied to age or financial conditions. The commercialization of education is part of an international process shaped by "neo-liberal ideologies" (see WTO [GATS]; and the promoted competition between geographic locations) and the thirst for profits. Long-time learning for life is better than simple professionalization for the labour market. With this Call we aim to defend this idea and encourage internationally coordinated protests!!
Tools of coordination
There is a group on facebook.com with more than 2,600 members from around the world: "International Students Movement for Free and Emancipating Education" (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24722765003) We must get connected. I admit, that a network where every message sent is traceable is not really the best platform. But there are simply so many people on Facebook, that it is a good way to get people together and spread awareness. There is also a mailing list: https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/international_students_movement
With this list students from various countries can inform other students elsewhere about their struggle. Let students on other continents know how student movements in your area are acting against this development. A brand-new homepage (incl. a forum) has been launched recently, which will also serve as a platform for discussions: http://www.emancipating-education-for-all.org
International Day of Action on 5th November 2008
Various provinces across Canada are organizing a "Day of Action against Tuition Fees" on 5th November. Why not make it an "International Day of Action against the Commercialization of Education"? We are millions of activists around the world and potentially even more and most societies are wealthier than ever before. Therefore free and emancipating public education for all must not remain just a vision. Too few people see that there are many other individuals struggling against exactly the same forces. This day of action aims to spread awareness and promote the global perspective of the struggle. With this international Call the supporters suggest the following: Most of you reading this are part of a student movement somewhere on this planet. Get in touch with the other activists and discuss this Call. If you decide that you want to be part of this, then get people organized for a particular act of protest (what exactly you do in protest - be it big or small - is completely up to you!) Take pictures and clips of the event and send them to the mailing list (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a short description of what happened during the protest. Ten days later (15th Nov.) we can start creating a (music-)video and a little booklet (or flyer) summarizing all the protests that took part on this day which can then be sent to all groups who are interested. Those can get it printed out and distribute, as well as forward it in their area!
Established students organizations could also publish press releases to get the message out to a broader public.
This international Day of Action will hopefully be only the beginning. When we have a reliant infrastructure and sufficient people from various parts of the world involved, we can plan further steps and actions!!
With this international Call we invite all students and university staff organizations to join us and to fight for truly free and emancipating public education. Please help to propagate this Call, talk to others about it and get involved.
Let's get organized and unite in our struggle for Free and Emancipating public Education.
Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video