Report from the struggle for education in the Spanish state

by Albert Garcia, student activist in the Spanish state

As in Greece education is one of the main targets of the Spanish state’s austerity politics. The public education system has been attacked ruthlessly and with increasing intensity throughout last year and the beginning of this one. The budget cuts affect the entire educational community, whether nurseries, primary, secondary or higher education, whether workers or students: layoffs, increased working hours, salary reductions, fewer teachers, overcrowded classrooms, worse study conditions  — and the ‘gentrification’ of education, embodied in the brutal 66% hike in higher education tuition fees.

The education reform bill approved by the Conservative government a few weeks ago is a classist and sexist attack on the fundamental right to universal public education, allowing public funding of sex-segregated schools and erecting new obstacles to limit the number of students able to access higher education. It is clear that the words of the Education Minister, José Ignacio Wert, that “not everyone should be able to study”, are not just rhetoric. The probable bail-out of the Spanish state will only worsen the situation.

But austerity in education and especially in higher education has encountered growing resistance. Last year saw big demonstrations of tens of thousands of students, teachers and university workers, and several college strikes. The climax was on May 22, with the first general strike in education for several decades. And the summer break has not broken resistance.

On October 11, the first college strike of the present academic course took place. Last week the unions called three days of struggle in education. Especially in secondary schools in almost every city of the Spanish state this call was welcomed. On October 18, we experienced a historic breakthrough when parents’ associations joined school students on strike, showing the rage against austerity and against Minister Wert, who sought to criminalise the protests by saying that these were instigated by far-left students.

The academic year has begun early with protests, but if we want to stop cuts and privatization we must forge a massive student movement in every college, on every campus and in every secondary school. We must also link the struggles, connecting students with teachers and other public sector workers.  This is a fight of the entire working class against austerity and debt re-payments. The November 14 General Strike in Southern Europe will be a day to show and forge that unity.

Students, mostly young unemployed or semi-employed workers in precarious workplaces with no trade union tradition, have to be active in the general strike. We need to close schools, colleges and workplaces and march alongside the rest of the working class to show that we want public, accessible education for all. We will defend the social rights of the working class and smash austerity like in Quebec.

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At the Education Activist Network Conference we will hold a session on international student struggles. The conference will bon Sunday October 28 @SOAS, 11-5am.

http://educationactivistnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/09/07/register-for-the-ean-autumn-conference-at-soas-on-sunday-october-28/

Support our teachers – UEL academic staff to strike

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Support our teachers – UEL staff to strike

UCU lecturers and academic staff at the University of East London (UEL) have voted to take strike action over the next four weeks. The first day of strike action will be on Thursday October 18. Read more of this post

A message from Defend the Right to Protest

Please find a message from the Defend the Right to Protest Campaign below. Their conference will be held this Sunday 14th October, 11.30 -5.30pm, ULU, Malet St. It is sponsored by NUS, UCU, PCS and CWU.

Dear EAN

We would like to invite you to our national conference on Austerity, Injustice and the power of Protest on Sunday 14th October at ULU. Read more of this post

Speaking out against Professor Ian Parker’s Suspension at MMU

Dearest friends,

Something incredibly shocking has happened.

Professor Ian Parker has been suspended from Manchester Metropolitan University. It has happened suddenly and unexpectedly, and students and staff at the University have been given little to no explanation as to why. Read more of this post

Stop the Destruction of Ruskin College’s Archive

by Shaun Williams, a former Student at Ruskin College, Oxford.

It has come to light that Ruskin College, Oxford, the institute of higher education which has long-standing associations with  the labour and trade union movements has been destroying a great deal of valuable archival material. Read more of this post

Save Applied Community and Youth Work Studies at Manchester University

by Denise Hayward, student in the ACYWS Dept

The Applied Community and Youth Work Studies (ACYWS) has provided opportunities for students to participate in higher education at the University of Manchester for nearly 25 years, growing in stature, and achieving a reputation as one of the best courses of its kind in the country. Previously at the forefront of the widening participation agenda, the University can rightly claim that this programme has ensured that many students with credible experience have been able to secure good quality degrees that would have been denied them had the emerging concentration on ‘A’ level attainment been enforced. Read more of this post

Queen Mary UCU votes for strike action

On a 55% turnout Queen Mary UCU members have voted for strike action and action short of a strike over redundancies and performance management issues. 65% voted for strike action and 81% for action short of a strike. Read more of this post

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