Students, teachers and school employees have been protesting against the closure of D. João de Castro Secondary School in Lisbon.
The self-organised students of the D. João de Castro Secondary School locked the gates of the school today - not for the first time - and gathered outside shouting slogans and chanting against the closure of the school ordered by the Ministry (supposedly to be merged with the Fonseca Benevides Secondary School).
Later, around 150 students together with some teachers and school employees got aboard two buses and got off at Praça de Saldanha. We formed a march with banners and placards containing slogans like "the ministry is wrong to close D. João school" and "D. João united will never be defeated", and proceeded down Av. October 5 to the Education Ministry buildings.
There, a delegation handed an official a copy of a leaflet containing scale maps of the two school buildings, the D.João de Castro and the Fonseca Benevides school which is planned to house the 2 merged schools! (See http://pt.indymedia.org/cidades/c1/imgpublico/1139852293452b7096dc.JPG )
One student member of the delegation demanded an explanation as to why they had chosen to shut down the D.João de Castro School and also demanded an answer to the letter sent to the Minister containing over 400 signatures, collected in the space of just one week and give formally delivered to the Ministry on January 30th.
After leaving the Min. of Education building, demonstrators were interviewed by several journalists which can be viewed here:
The initiative is being reported in the media and winning against an autocratic Ministry that is unwilling to listen or to engage in dialogue with us.
The Ministry wants to "stage-manage" the process in the "gentlest" possible way, without making waves, for what it counts with the embarrassed silence of those who refrain from taking a position on the matter, a matter which is within the remit of the unions and which is, above all, a case of the defence of State education against neo-liberal plans for privatisation and for the impoverishment of the education system.
So far, the union confederation FESAL-E (both its Portuguese Collective and other member organisations of this European federation such as the Spanish CGT, the Independent Union of Students and Apprentices of Italian-speaking Switzerland - SISA) and the recently-created Libertarian Student Union (Coimbra) have demonstrated their solidarity.
It is important to widen the scale of that support to include all progressive forces, especially anti-capitalists and libertarians. This resistance is a first response to a vast plan to close schools all over the country, a plan that has already been announced by the Education Ministry.
The students and teachers are urging others to send letters of protest and solidarity to the Minister with copies to the D. João de Castro School.
Below(*) you will find a suggested text, together with the necessary fax numbers.
NÃO AO ENCERRAMENTO DA ESCOLA D. JOÃO DE CASTRO.
EM DEFESA DA ESCOLA PÚBLICA.
NÃO À ESPECULAÇÃO.
NO TO THE CLOSURE OF ESCOLA D. JOÃO DE CASTRO.
DEFEND THE STATE SCHOOLS SYSTEM.
Education Ministry fax no.: (+351) 213 970 310
Please also send a copy to the School:
Escola D. João de Castro fax no.: (+351) 21 361 64 97
Edited by libcom.org news from an article by Manuel Baptista from Anarkismo.net