Marburg Call for Education – Democratization instead of Commercialization!

The following statement was agreed on by various teachers, parents, and (school) students in Marburg (Germany) in April 2013 after a month long discussion. The process was actively facilitated by the local Education and Science Workers' Union (GEW Marburg-Biedenkopf) and is currently being spread in the region and beyond, also through this petition.

We want to use this opportunity to express our solidarity with fellow teachers, students, workers and parents around the world struggling against the increasing commercialization of education, precarious working conditions, as well as for free emancipatory education for all.

To inform people in other parts of the world that also in Marburg we are actively involved in the struggle this statement was translated into English.

 

Marburg Call for Education
Democratization instead of Commercialization!

We need a new development for our education system. For years the domination of economic interests has been increasingly impacting areas, in which the welfare of people should be prioritized.

Within healthcare as well as social affairs this can already be observed clearly. Also within education current reforms are primarily about economic efficiency, competition, and usability. The price is being paid by our children and youth, their parents, our teachers and schools. We all are paying the price.

1. Our children and youth need time for their personal development, instead of being rushed through school. They need time to playfully try out new things and be creative, for careful reflection and critical analysis, as well as to develop the ability to judge. „Zeitraub“ (= robbery of time“; Oskar Negt) through the reduction of school days and a learning atmosphere dominated by tests and exams impede education.

Against G8 (a recent reform reducing schools days by one year for A levels) and enduring school stress!
For the deceleration of learning and enough time for personal development for all!

2. According to the constitution of Hessia (Art. 56,4) our teachers have an educational mandate, according to which education is more than the sum of measurable learning results. Education should not be reduced to be an efficiency orientated „fit making“ for the market. The current school policy narrows education down to the mediation of instrumental skills („competences“). If lessons are increasingly shaped by „teaching-to-the-test“, then education and its ethical and emancipatory function falls by the wayside. Teachers play a significant role within the educational process. They require pedagogical freedom and more rights of co-determination.

Against „standards of education“ and „skills orientation“!
For a comprehensive education for all!

3. For worthwhile classes our schools must be able to provide philanthropic learning conditions. This includes a comprehensive provision of professional staff (teachers, social workers, mediators, psychologists), a adequate space and facilities, as well as planning security. All this must remain to be the „responsibilities of the state“ (constituition of the federal state of Hessia, Art. 56,1). Once the rules of economics determine pedagogical processes, schools will be degraded to mere service companies, which compete for „customers“ (parents and school students) – e.g. like „semi-autonomous schools“ - instead of enabling young people to self-educate themselves as well as to think and act independently. When the focus is on education and personal development economic rational must not have the upper hand.

Against competition between locations and privatization!
For the reinforcement of democratic right for all within schools!

4. Instead of conformed „self-optimisers“ our society needs personalities who can evaluate what really matters. We need people with civic courage and empathy, with the ability to act in solidarity and with a sense of responsibility for the common good.

Schools are no commercial enterprises! Children and youth are no „human capital“! We therefore demand an education, which is bound to democracy and not to the market!

A better school is possible!

________

This statement was translated with the help of the international department of the general students' committee at the University of Marburg. The original in German is available here.