Italian students keep on demonstrating against the recent reforms supported by the Ministry of Education.
“We will not pay for this crisis” is the slogan of the Wave, the nickname used by students in Italy for their movement against the recent education reforms put forward by the Minister of Education, Gelmini.
Last Friday, 14 November 2008, 300,000 people walked into the main streets and squares in Rome to show that the students will keep on struggling against laws n.133 and n.169 which support the hierarchical and anachronistic idea of the transmission and production of knowledge based on the false concept of “meritocracy”. On that day, four buses of CGIL union members, a night train full of university students, more than 1,000 people from collectives and faculty associations and seven special trainloads of people gathered in Rome. On 13 November, students blocked the traffic in Rome protesting a double attack by this reform: these laws, with their expenditure cuts, will make it impossible for them to work in university research as well as for their teachers.
The La Sapienza university is one of the main institutions where actions are taking place but all over Italy students from University, High- Schools and even the “Scuole Medie” (11 to 14 years old) are involved in the demonstrations. They simply ask that access to education will be dictated by people’s wishes and needs and not by a deal between the state and companies. The students are drawing comparisons between, on one hand, the availability of the government to invest money in order to rescue banks and, on the other, the eager willingness to save money in the education and research sectors through cuts.
Those supporting the reforms claim that there is too much waste, too much clientelism, and inefficiency in the education system. But what about those managers earning unjustifiable amount of money, bureaucratic extravagances and unreasonable representative expenses which constitute the world of banks and insurance?
The demonstrations started in Italy on 17 October when the national demonstration called by COBAS took place. Another important date has been 7 November with regional demonstrations all around Italy. Then came 14 November and Tuesday 18 November where during a big show called “Siamo in Onda”. 25 artists and students from the faculties still occupied held speeches on a stage just behind the university La Sapienza (where four faculties are still occupied Physics, Literature, Politics and Geology). The aim of the show was also to prepare the big demonstration expected for the day of strike action on 12 December. But before the strike, on 28 November, the students will take to the streets again. And, while the ministry Maroni threatens to use the force if necessary to allow the normal functioning of lectures, the democratic Jurists association offers free legal assistance to students and workers.
Two of the main Italian unions, CISL and UGL, have declared that they will not participate in the strike on 12 December, when workers are expected to stop work for four hours and a national demonstration will be called by FIOM in Rome. These unions claim that they want to go on discussing openly with the Ministry Gelmini who, according to them, has given signal of openness. The decision of the CGIL, the other big Italian union to take part comes after Berlusconi did not invite them to a ‘secret’ meeting between the prime minister, Confindustria, CISL and UGL which took place on 11 November.
The Wave is a students’ movement against the idea of university as a place of reproduction of precariousness, disqualification of knowledge and subordination to the baronial power. This movement wants to present itself as made by subjects embedded with actual productive power and not, as someone would like, as clients buying the commodity education.