Proposal for an
“International Day of Action against the Commercialisation of Education“
(5th Nov. 2008)
Let’s start off with an introduction
I am an activist in Germany. We have been struggling against the introduction of tuition fees and the increasing commodification and influence of economic actors on education. For the past years many tens of thousand protested, blocked highways, occupied university buildings and were arrested in Germany alone. In Europe this development is part of the Bologna process, which was signed by the education ministers in 1999, which aims to reform the education systems within Europe in order to make – how else could it be – the EU the most competitive area of the world. Just like every other province/ state/ country or confederation in this world aims to do the same. The Bologna process is made of the same ideology that is promoted by the WTO (with its General Agreement on Trade in Services [GATS]).
This results in education systems serving economic instead of public interests. By giving universities more “autonomy” and promoting competition between higher education facilities a small number of top-quality institutions depending on high tuition fees (and an elitist image) and a large number of low-quality universities for the masses is being created. That only profitable study courses (those supported by economic “partners”) have a chance to survive is obvious.
This whole commodification process has advanced much further in the U.S. of A., Canada, Australia and England in the past 20 years with well known consequences. Many countries in Latin America and Africa follow suit and now this development is kicking off in the rest of Europe as well.
Well, since I got involved in student protests in Germany I have done some more research on this topic and put together a list of student protests against the commodification of education (and the resulting tuition fees) for the year 2007:
The result: (partly massive) protests in over 30 countries on 5 continents within one year alone. And these were just the ones I was able to get a hold on.
I am doing the same for the year 2008:
http://fading-hope.blog-city.com/students_protest_worldwide_against_commercialisation_bologn.htm (take a look for the latest protests).
As far as I know students in Chile, the Philippines, the U.S. of A. (in California), Spain, Germany, Austria (probably soon again), Canada, New Zealand and England are currently struggling for free and “proper education”.
In my opinion “proper education” must include emancipating education! So that people are enabled to reflect 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 much harder to influence and control. But to me a society is only truly democratic, when most (if not all) citizens are able to reflect what is happening around them and whose interests are reflected in the power structure. (More details on that can be found in the discussion forum of the Facebook group mentioned below.)
That’s why Free and Emancipating Education for All is of vital importance, if there is ever suppose to be a democratic society somewhere. By privatising education the exact opposite is achieved. The little bit of emancipating education – fought for by movements in the past – is disappearing because it is not profitable (unless a few students from a wealthy background are willing to pay lots of money for it).
In the end this is not just a matter for students, but for workers as well and society as a whole!
What can we – the students around the world – do?
There is a group on facebook.com with more than 1,100 members from around the world: “International Students Movement for Free and Emancipating Education” (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=24722765003) Join this group! 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 in there, that it is a good way to get people together and spread awareness. Then there is a mailing list: https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/international_students_movement
Join this mailing list! With this list students from various countries who oppose the commodification process can inform other students elsewhere about their struggle. Let students on other continents know how student movements elsewhere are acting against this development. An online forum would also help to get people together. (If anybody know how to create a proper forum on a good provider please let us know.)
The commercialisation of education is part of an international process shaped by “neoliberal ideologies” (see WTO; and the promoted competition between geographic locations) and the thirst for profits. We won’t accept being reduced to human capital!
To counter this we need to unite and co-ordinate our struggle together!!
International Day of Action on 5th November 2008
Various provinces across Canada are organizing a “Day of Action against Tuition Fees” on 5th November.
Well, why not make it an “International Action Day against the Commercialisation of Education” (which includes the increasing influence of corporations due to the dependency of universities on investments from “outside”)??
We are millions of activists around the world and potentially even many more and most societies are wealthier than ever before, therefore demanding free and emancipating education for all must not remain just a vision.
Many people (including students) either don’t see the problem (we need to get a public discussion started again: What’s the purpose of public education?) or gave up hope and think they can’t change anything anyway.
This is definitely NOT true! We just need to get organized. Too many people don’t really see that there are many other individuals struggling against exactly the same forces.
To promote this kind of global awareness and spread hope we need to get an “International Day of Action against the Commercialisation of Education” organized!!
I suggest the following: Most of you reading this are part of some students movement somewhere on this planet. Get in touch with the other activists and discuss this idea. When you decide that you want to be part of this, then get people organized for a particular act of protest (what exactly is up to you!)
Take pictures of the event (make faces unrecognizable) and send them to the mailing list (email@example.com) with a short description of what happened during the protest. Ten days later (15th Nov.) we can start creating a little booklet (or flyer) summarizing all the protests that took part on this day. That again we can save as a pdf. file, send to all groups who are interested. Get it printed out and distribute it!
Established students organisations could also publish press releases to get the message out to the broader public.
But please notice: This Action Day should just be a start of more actions to come. This day is suppose to only spread awareness and promote the global perspective. We shouldn’t expect too much at first. When we have sufficient people from various parts of the world on the mailing list and discussing in the forum, then we can plan further steps and actions!!
This proposal will be published in the following languages: Spanish, English, Greek, German, Italian, French and Filipino and circulated in various parts of the world. The different versions of this proposal will be accessible at the following blog: fading-hope.blog-city.com
LET’S DO IT!!
PS: Since English is the most manifested language internationally, therefore please communicate in English – if possible – so that more people can understand what is being written. Thank you! Danke! Gracias! Merci! Grazie! Ευχαριστίες! Obrigado!