EU Students | 19.10.2001 16:56
International online-meeting about the coming EU-wide student- and pupilprotests
More and more student- and pupilgroups and individuals are involved with the student- and pupilprotests against the EU educationpolicy and the GATS-treaty and the mobilisation for Brussels. At the moment groups and individuals from Greece, Finland, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Austria and France are involved. We didn`t manage to make contacts in portugal and Sweden untill now. We also have had some inspiring messages from students out of the USA, Canada and Australia.
Sinds it`s almost impossible to organise an International meeting on this short term (The actions are scheduled for December the 10th untill December the 14th), we want to organise an international meeting on the internet. We want to use the chatroom of the Englishspeaking Mailinglist-site for the meeting.
The meeting will take place on Saturday the 27th of October at:
UTC Time 18.00 hours (06.00 PM) that is:
20.00. hours (Berlin-time)
19.00 hours ( London-time)
11.00 hours (AM) (San Francisco-time)
1400 hours (2.00 PM) (Montreal)
04.30 hours (AM) (Adelaide)
The adress is:
First you have to join the mailinglist (right above click at: join now on the website above, ofcourse not if you are already a member, after the meeting you can follow the discussions about the student- and pupilprotests as well by the mailinglist than. If you don`t want to receive to many mails in your box you can take the option of a daily digest and when you don`t wnna receive any mails at all you can take the web-only option or unsubscribe again) then you go to the menu on he left and click on chat. You can choose between voice chat or writing. We don`t use the chatroom on our normal website for this meeting, since it`s not possible to use chatvoice on our website and the menu is only in German.
We will also want to ask student- and pupilgroups and individuals from outside the European Union to join the internetmeeting as the resistance against the GATS-treaty is groing worldwide and maybe we can koordinate actions in the future with students and pupils outside of Europe as well.
As a reminder: call for an EU-wide student- and pupilstrike
Call for an EU-wide student- and pupilstrike!
Study-fees, cuts in budget, privatisation of schools and universities... Education´s aims are rapidly changing, are more and more going to serve private, economic interests. All around Europe students are facing similar problems. The reasons can be found in EU-policy. For this reason students from Dortmund (Germany) are calling for an EU-wide pupil- and studentstrike from December 10th to December 14th 2001. During the first days of this strike actions in European cities, universities and schools are due to take place. A huge common march at the end of the EU summit in Brussels(Belgium) is scheduled for December 14th.
National education policy is a fiction
Since we suppose that around the EU students are facing the same problems, we are calling for an EU-wide strike. In Germany study-fees for so called long-term students have been allowed, general study-fees are being discussed, universities are turned vom state-run institutes into autonomous private foundations. In Austria study-fees have been introduced this summer. In Holland the education minister has announced that Netherlands` universities are due to be increasingly commercialised...There must be numerous examples all around Europe. By icident? No! Students in each country must think their national educational politics are unique and customized to the respective national situation. But a quick look around Europe reveals: National politics are neither unique nor customized to the local situation but are instigated by a systematic EU-wide policy. In fact the way national educational policy within EU-states takes is entirely predetermined by already negotiated treaties - especially the GATS-treaty. So, who wonders about similar problems in different European states. For educational policy is yet decided about on international grounds, we think it is about time for European pupils and students to protest and speak out internationally.
Just one example: German universities are prepared for privatisation
Germany´s "No" to study-fees, a long-time guarantee for Gemany´s comparably high degree of equality of chances, is no longer untouchable. As a result the indirect universitiy-educations´s rise in price through increasing re-enrolment-fees and insufficient student-grants is mirrored in a current study about students´social situation published by "Deutsches Studentenwerk": Enrolment-figures are falling especially with children from poorer families ie. working-class families whose students are often forced to work for money during their studies and therefore are entitled to become so-called long-term-students. It is easy to recognize: Student-fees of what kind ever will only aggravate this situation. As a consequence Gemany´s in international comparison low number of university men and women will never be increased. While a reform of student-grants has failed, the German ministry of education is spending more and more money on the research-sector.
Spending more money on research to empty Germany´s overcrowded lecture halls or why universities are economised to be ready for sponsorschip
Because of the German minister´s, sudden change in her attitude towards study-fees after long years of rejecting those one has to ask why. The reason is quite simple: For some time now education and university policy does no longer lie in the hands of German politics. There is no other explanation of such inconsitencies. And watching closely the national situation, one finds the key to ministerial electorial lies in Brussels, in the hands of the European Union und furthermore in the hands of the WTO (World Trade Organisation). By means of the international trade agreement GATS (General Agreement of Trade in Services) started in 1994 the WTO has begun to lay the educational sector in the hands of civil economy.
By means of GATS state services like educational services and healthcare are declared a tradable commodity. Under the auspicies of the WTO, beyond democratic control of national parliaments, GATS is designed to give companies the opportunity to take over the biggest part of state services like public transportation, tourism, healthcare, telecommunication, water supplies etc. not only on national but international grounds.
European states have acceeded GATS under the umbrella of the European Union, punishing member states in case of inadequate openening of their markets - here the services sector - to foreign companies. Sooner or later any sector - if not monopolistically state-controlled - has to be opened like the German educational sector where a number of private institutions is yet established. By means of the GATS discipline of equal treatment foreign companies are enabled to sue their way into the public sector of nations. At this moment the liberalisation of educational and healthcare sectors are discussed under the umbrella of GATS. Simultaneously Germany is yet paving the way for foreign companies to enter the educatinal sector. Not only by approaching study-fees German universties are prepared for market competition. By turning state owned universities into foundations German universities are enabled to collect more sponsorships and act company-like themselves. It is not by chance that since the middle of this year a private university, the University of Witten/Herdecke, experienced in collecting sponsorships and making profits, is represented in the German Conference of University Rectors (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz) for the first time. By means of a decree of the ministry of education state universities are urged to sell patents more profitable now. A new law about universities` autonomy giving universities greater freedom in selecting students and creating curricula - probably according to economic needs - is brought on the way. Of course study-fees for everybody are highly likely in private foundations. The opening of markets according to GATS is nothing less than privatisation yet negotiated and only to be realised on national basis. A return of a privatised educational sector into state hands is actually impossible according to GATS.
In expectation of a strong competition for sponsorships and profitable coalitions with private companies the ministerial strategy of increased spendings on research while spending on education is reduced for sponsorship becoming more acceptable makes sense in order to increase the attractivity of German universities.
Human resources - how human beings are becoming natural resources
For quite a time now in international treaties as well as in the EU pupil and students are referred to as human resources. A revealing term: since today´s education´s main aim is to produce human resources for companies. Private capital trying to impose its aims and priorities on education according to market priciples is no surprise. Education is turned into a market sector. Politicians are deliberately accepting a market orchestrating educational aims and organisation. Even the in its biggest parts still state-run German educational sector is more and more turned into a supplier of made-to-measure human resources. Unneccessary burdon like general education and social skills are consequently removed from the curriculum.
Education is turned into a "place" where war-rules are applied. Destinction between winners and loosers is made between owners of more and more expensive education and widely uneducated human resources. Despite of many educators` efforts selection of the best is becoming more and more important. Development of the individual and his skills is restrained. The establishing of elité-institutes and the year long disapproved of special education of highly talented pupils have become fashionable again. According to neo-liberalism´s monotonously repeated justification, knowlegde has become the most important resource of the so called "New Economy", where companies and no loger schools are the place where development of the individual takes place, where economy and no loger a collective consensus about what is desirable skills is deciding about organisation, production, upvalue and spreading of "knowledge that counts". Education is more and more submitting under technology. More and more education is being instrumentalised to enhance enterpreneurship and economical use in research and education.
Stop EU´s education-policy!
If the Europeans want to avoid the aforementioned development "they certainly must not follow the guidelines fixed by the 15 European heads of states at the extraordinary conference of European ministers in Lisbon in March 2000, later specified by means of an action-plan created by the European ministers in Feira in June 2000", warns Riccardo Petrella, advisor of the European commission and professor at the Université Catholique in Leuven (Belgium). Further he explains, that according to this guidelines Europe´s main effort was to build up "e-Europe" in order to turn Europe into the worlds most potent "e-economy" by 2015. The main aim of educational policy was to give all Europeans at the age of pre- and primary school access to digital education " in order to allow production of competitive human resources - especially competitive in regard of Northamerica´s human resources, who are supposed to be 10 years ahead", Petrella reports.
Neo-liberalism - a solution or the chosen few
These guidelines of neo-liberalism are postulated as the way to full employment and social justice. What a mistake. Drastically the U.S. example reveals, where this way will lead to: In spite of an ecomomic boom in the 90´s, in spite of low unemployment rates, in spite of the worlds most developed information and communication technologies, in spite of first-class universities the average level of education is miserable. In the following society is falling apart in productive and unproductive "human resources". A neo-liberal caste system with no escape for the uneducated new proletariat is developing. Since the caste of the educated just needs restricted human resources access to this class has to be elité. "Modern" foreigner-policy shows where this way is leading to: Green-cards for the caste of the educated, deportation for useless human resources.
International actions are more useful
Until now students only have operated on national grounds. Since national influence on education policy is declining it is neccassary to act internationally against the "dictatorship of international trade-treaties". Action is neccessary right now, since the WTO has just started another round of GATS-talks after the failure of the Seattle negotiations. Healthcare and education are on the agenda this time. Since the European Union officially advised by an international lobbygroup of service providers is taking part in GATS-talks it is absolutely neccessary for European students to fight in joint operations against this liberalisation of uncontrollable outcome while all around Europe the preparing mechanisms of the opening of markets are already at work.
European students willing to strike?
While in austria this semester study fees are paid for the first time and Germany is developing in the same direction, privatisation of education in Great Britain is actually yet finished. Therefore the idea of an EU-wide pupil and student strike is well accepted. Presumably GRAS (Grüne und Alternative StudentInnen), inhabiting presidency of the austrian students, and AKS (Aktion kritischer SchülerInnen) will take part in the strike. In spite of holiday time positive reactions from Germany have yet arrived. It makes less and less sense to act exclusivly on national basis, since the most important decisions are made in Brussels by the EU. At the moment we are trying to get in contact with all European student organisations.
A special website providing broadscale information about the EU-wide strike is online:
Multilingual discussion and coordination will take place by way of our mailinglist: