★ ISM - UK
Manila, March 18-22nd:
Week of 'Black Protest' after Student Suicide triggered by inability to Pay for Tuition Fees
A week of 'Black Protest' at public and private colleges and universities across the Philippines takes place between March 18 and 22. It commemorates the death of Kristel Tejada who committed suicide, because she couldn't pay for tuition fees in time. The 'Black Protest' is marked by walk-outs and is also directed against another possible increase in tuition fees.
“Education is a right and it shouldn’t be sold,” said Mariz Zubiri, chair of the student council of UP branch in Manila, as hundreds of students rushed to UP (University of the Philippines) Manila to begin protest rallies. Police deployed a so-called security forces on campus.
“This is a call on all students to stand up and strike for education and justice,” said Zubiri at the start of a protest of rallies for Kristel Tejada, a Behavioral Sciences student who died after drinking silver cleaner.
The suicide of Kristel, 16, the eldest of five children of a taxi driver and a housewife, came after she filed a leave of absence in the middle of the second semester for failure to pay tuition of around P10,000 (~ €190/ US$245).
Tejada lost her life after being brought to Manila’s Philippine General Hospital on Friday, March 15.
Her story went viral on the internet over the weekend.
Protesters created a sea of black ribbons all over the campus. They also wore black ribbons on their right arms.
Students created black handprints on a piece of white cloth in solidarity with her mourning family.
Militant groups joined the protesting students.
Students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) held solidarity protests over the death of Tejada and the reported tuition increase in their school.
“We fear that if tuition and other fees increase in PUP, we will face the same fate as the UP Iskolar ng Bayan*. We must protest the fee hikes,” said PUP student regent Helen Alfonso.
At the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila students kicked off the week with a walk-out and burnt chairs as well as tables in the courtyard on campus.
History repeats itself - just 3 years before (2010), there was a tuition fee increase that was stopped by the burning of wooden chairs that took place in the exact same place, at PUP, Mabini campus.
“Kristel’s death has galvanized the students to act and express their growing discontent to our current education system. The spark ignited by her untimely demise has rekindled the fire of dissent in thousands of students both in public and private universities. Together, let us fight to scrap unjust tuition policies and demand justice for Kristel and for all,” Terry Ridon, president of Kabataan Partylist.
* Students of the university and its graduates are generally referred to as “[Mga] Iskolar ng Bayan”
Morocco, February 24th:
Day of Action to Commemorate the Killing of Mohamed Fizazi and Protest Police presence on Campus
In various cities across Morocco students came together to commemorate the killing of Mohamed El Fizazi who sadly died of his injuries on January 26th 2013.
Mohamed, a 22 year old radical leftist student, passed away after he had been beaten up when the police broke into the campus of Mohamed Ibn Abdellah University in Fès. He was one of several students who were badly beaten by the so called Quick Response Forces. Mohamed was then taken to the hospital where he died as a result of serious head injuries.
He was a member of the National Union of Students in Morocco in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Mohamed Ibn Abdellah University. Mohamed was enrolled in the Department of English Literature, and he was expected to graduate this year.
Mohamed Ibn Abdellah University in Fès is a traditional stronghold of leftist students in Morocco. Many of them were killed on its campuses before. The most famous incident dates back to 1988 when police shot dead the students Souad El Saidi, Zoubida Khalifa, and Adil El Ajroumi.
The Union of students to change the educational system organized on February 24th a sit-in against the murder of the student FIZAZI in FEZ and to say "NO" to the tripartite agreement between the ministry of higher education, interior and justice that allows the police forces to intervene at any moment on campus and stop student activities. Program: Flashmob, Freeze, a play, a sit-in with slogans, speaking participants. #1world1struggle
source: fb album on global ISM page
Union of students for the change of the educational system (also known as UECSE or UX) have recently (24 February) demonstrated artistically to show their rage about the death of Mohamed Fizazi. This student died a few days after being beaten up by the police on campus. What allowed this to happen is the Tripartite Memorandum. It combines three ministries: justice, education and interior and gives them the authority on students campus, it also gives the police the right to interfere at any time they want and for no legitimate reason.
On 7th February, following a demonstration against the privatisation of 235 jobs, students at Sussex University occupied a conference centre on their campus. The university management plans to sell off many of the services they provide, despite opposition from staff and students. As the Sussex Against Privatisation blog states:
Marburg, February 9th:
Anti-Capitalist Education Block/
Students Squat Former School Building
Around 250 people took to the streets of Marburg - a small town with around 80,000 people in the middle of Germany - during an anti-capitalist demonstration. Part of it was also an anti-capitalist education block (call to action in German):
Also signs saying "No Border, No Nation - Free Education!" as well as "I'm NOT human capital!" were spotted.
Other topics included sexism, deportations, as well as the increasing privatisation of public space.
Among others also this banner was part of the demo:
'Overcoming borders! Solidarity instead of Germany'
The whole demo was accompanied by a huge riot police contingent. When the protesters were about to reach the final destination of the march (a major junction) to hold a final speech 3 rows of riot police blocked the demo. This resulted in scuffels and the use of pepper spray as well as batons by the law and order personnel.
Reports are still vague, but according to newspaper and eye wittness reports at least four people were detained, searched, identified (incl. pictures taken) by the riot police.
At night around 150 people (mostly) students began to squat an empty house (formerly a school) as a practical step in the struggle against the increasing privatisation of public space and for affordable housing.
The house has been empty for a while and was recently privatised (sold for €1.1m). The new owner wants to use it to rent expensive apartments.
The squatters aim to keep the space and fill it with workshops, public screenings and cultural activities at least for the coming days.
Augsburg and Hannover, January 17/18th:
Rallies for Free Education
In the struggle for free education a broad alliance called for rallies in Augsburg (Bavaria) and Hannover (Lower-Saxony) on January 17th and 18th respectively.
Bavaria and Lower-Saxony are the only two federal states (out of 16) in Germany left charging general tuition fees at universities.
In five other federal states tuition fees were abolished again after massive protests in the past few years - e.g. most recently in North-Rhine Westphalia.
That the demonstrations were initiated now is no coincidence. In Bavaria a popular referendum aiming to abolish tuition fees kicked off on January 17th. For it to be successful almost 1,000,000 people need to participate. It is likely to succeed, recent polls suggest that around 74% of the population reject the idea to charge people for the opportunity to study. The referendum ends on January 30th.
Up to 2,000 people participated in the rally in Hannover and 600 in Augsburg. At least in Hannover protesters did not just express their rejection of tuition fees, but also focussed on the abolition of fees linked to the access to education in general - incl. kindergarden.
Many students in Bavaria and Lower Saxony also protested during the Global Education Strike in November 2012.
website of the referendum: volksbegehren-studiengebuehren.de
In Lower-Saxony elections for the parliament of the federal state are scheduled for January 20th. Opposition parties are supporting the call for the abolition of tuition fees - at least for now.
Let's see if tuition fees will be abolished across Germany in the coming months. That would also be an important signal for the struggle on the global level.
videos and pictures of the rallies:
banner says: for a society based on solidarity! - tearing down barriers in the access to education!