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26 October: General student strike! In defense of public education!
On 26 October, students throughout the Spanish state will vacate our classrooms, to fight against policies which are destroying public education. As in many other countries, our right-wing government has applied massive cuts to public education and put in place various counter-reforms, which seek to make education accessible only to those who can afford to pay for it.
We students who hail from working class families – the overwhelming majority of students – have suffered the degradation of our schools and universities, a shortage of teachers and resources, the elimination of government assistance to students from more humble backgrounds, and hikes of up to 66% in university fees. These reforms have meant the exclusion of tens of thousands of students from university, overcrowding in classrooms and the imposition of the study of Catholic religion… Meanwhile, the governments of PSOE (former social democratic, “Socialist” Party) and the PP (traditional right wing) have dedicated untold quantities of public money to save the banks and pay for a debt which we didn’t create (more than €250 billion paid in the last 6 years).
As if all this wasn’t enough, this summer the government passed one of the most savage attacks on public education yet: the Francoist “re-validations”. These are a series of exams to be taken at the end of primary, secondary and post-secondary (“bachillerato”) education. Passing these exams will be essential in order to continue studying and to be awarded the qualification corresponding to that level of education. These “re-validations” are not new for us. Our parents had to suffer them under the Franco dictatorship, when they were used as a sort of filter, to stop working class young people from reaching university.
Now they want to impose this filter again, which could see hundreds of thousands of youths, between 14 and 16 years old prematurely expelled from studies, with no academic qualifications. The government’s motives are simple: if young people from working class families await only a future or precariousness and exploitation at work, why would they spend any money on our education? For families with more resources, the situation is different. They do not suffer the impact of cuts in the same way, as they have access to private one-to-one tuition, private academies and all else they need. For them, passing these new exams will not be a problem.
If this attack is carried through, we are talking about returning to an era in which education was only something for a privileged minority. The objective is to destroy public education and turn it into a market service, from which private education bosses can make big profits. However, the right to education for all was won at the cost of huge effort and struggle. Our parents and grandparents fought hard to achieve it and we can’t let them take it from us!
For this reason, the Students Union is calling on all young people in the Spanish state to participate in a general strike in education on 26 October, to empty the classrooms and fill the streets. There are already more than 70 demonstrations planned all over the Spanish state. The strike has already won the support of the Confederation of Parents’ Associations (CEAPA) and of numerous teachers’ unions, with whom we will be organizing joint demonstrations in the afternoon on 26 October.
We call on the youth of the world, who all suffer along with us the attacks and cuts to education by pro-capitalist governments, to support us on this day – with protests at Spanish embassies, messages and videos expressing solidarity with us, expressions of support on social media and anything else which occurs to you.
The struggle of the youth for their rights is one and the same throughout the world!
No to the Francoist re-validations!
Workers sons and daughters to university!