At their National Congress in Cork City, on Saturday 6 December, Ógra Shinn Féin launched a new national campaign on education. The campaign, titled 'Educate to be Free' was launched by ÓSF National Organiser Barry McColgan, and was endorsed by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams who was present.
Following the launch, the republican youth movement organised a No! Fees Protest on Cork's Patrick Street, which was well recieved by the public.
The following is the text from the launch:
Teideal an fheachtais seo, nath, cumtha go cáiliúil ag Thomas Davis, ‘Oil go mBeidh tú Saor’, ciallaíonn sé cumhacht uilíoch do dhaoine, ciallaíonn sé an ceart agus an gá le oiliúint a chur orainn féin agus gliúnta ag teacht.
The very title of this new campaign, a phrase famously coined by Thomas Davis, Educate that you may be free, suggests universal empowerment, it suggests the right and the need to educate ourselves and our future generations.
When Thomas Davis spoke those famous words, he was thinking from a liberation point of view. While the Irish people where oppressed, their language rights denied, and treated as second class citizens in their own nation, he reminded the Irish people the one thing the British Empire could not occupy was our minds.
Sentiments that would similarly be echoed over a century later by Mairead Farrell.
Education is a powerful tool, and has been one of the key factors in many key moments in our republican past.
The current phase of republican struggle was propelled forward and sustained in the early days by the Civil Rights Movement by a new generation of confident educated nationalists who benefited from the introduction of free education through the welfare state.
Education is a powerful tool, not only for liberation, but to empower our young people and our communities which is why it is essential that across Ireland we have a system of Free Education For All.
The upcoming campaign will deal with the broad spectrum of education and as a result is accessible for all cumann to undertake.
The main areas of the Educate to be Free campaign are:
- Irish Language Education – Calling for the universal opportunity to be educated in Irish at all levels
- Primary Education – Supporting the abolition of the 11+ and adequate class room sizes
- Free Education For All – Ensuring that all levels, especially 3rd level is free, and call for the abolition of all fees which incur massive debt on students
- Student Empowerment – Taking back the student unions for students, and radicalising the student movements especially in light of recent budget cuts
- Cost of Living – lobbying for a decent standard of living for struggling students
It will be run over 12 months, across universities, schools, and communities and include national forums, local debates, protests, petitions, booklets and DVD’s, support for running campaigns, letter writing and of course at a local level, more initiatives will develop and localised slants on the campaign will emerge.
We have already campaigned vigorously from the summer in opposition to fees, and we have been vocal in our support for the Assembly Education Minister Catriona Ruane in Sinn Féin’s progressive policy of abolishing the 11+.
Let us take the message to Irish Youth – Educate to be Free!
Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video