In the center of this new social explosion is the government’s will (with the explicit agreement of the party of opposition, the PASOK, Socialist Party) to revise Article 16 of the Greek Constitution. This article guarantees a high quality, free and especially public education for all Greek citizens. It declares without ambiguity that only the State can provide this service and that any private person is explicitly prohibited to do it in its place or in parallel.
It is obvious that an article of this type poses a major problem in the process of privatization of education. Process, let us not forget it, directed by the U.E through the Essen, Bologna and Lisbon Agreements.
In the Greek Parliament the discussion is not likely to be tense. The PASOK and Nea Dimokratia-party in government, centre right wing-, which together count for 90% of the seats, are in agreement on the revision. It is ironic is that it was the president of the opposition to the Parliament, G. Papandreou the president of the PASOK, who introduced it. The proposal concerns the opening of the market of education.
“The revision of Article 16 is essential for the improvement of the public system of education. Thanks to the creation of non-state and non-profit organizations the public universities will be forced to rationalize and become more effective thus exceeding the phenomena of bureaucracy and stagnation. ” he said in 2005. It is thanks to this “assist” on behalf of the “opposition” that the party in the government, Nea Dimokratia, can without obstacles dismount the national educational system.
The movement is getting bigger and bigger and bigger….
After three weeks of struggle the students do not seem tired. It started with a dozen occupied faculties and in three weeks it reached 311 occupied faculties. This has more merit if we think that the occupations are not permanent but each week, and in certain cases twice per weeks, there is a struggle in General Assemblies against the DAP (student union organization related to the party in government) which is a great force among the students.
Each week Coordinations at city level and one at national level take place. In spite of their structure being little fuzzy and questionable it is obvious that the participation increased since their beginning two weeks ago. The first national meeting had 200 students of all Greece representing their committee of occupation while in the second, one week later, there where more than 2000 students.
Since the beginning of the movement there are demonstrations organized every Wednesday. The participation in these demonstrations reflects the national tendency. On Wednesday January 24, third national event, the number of demonstrators at the national level reached 40000. In Athens there were 20000 demonstrators, in Thessaloniki 8000 to10000 and in other cities 10000.
However these figures are clearly lower than the capacity of the movement. It should not be forgotten that in the movement May-June 2006 more than 90% of faculties were occupied and that the demonstrations at the national level reached 70.000 - 80.000 demonstrators. “It is obvious that the fear of loss of the exam session or even of the whole semester and the arguments of the DAP limit the students to take part in the movement... ” Declared one participant of the Coordination of the occupations of Thessaloniki.
Students are not alone….
However in the street the students are not alone. The trade-unions: of university professors, primary and secondary teachers, employees at the universities, public services, of the workers in the construction /industry, some of the private sectors support and take part in the mobilizations. According to voice of the left, this is also the struggle of the workers.
This is only the beginning. The vote on the revision of the Constitution will take place in Mars. Meanwhile this week of new General Assemblies were called to decide the future actions, regional Coordinations and a national one of all faculties in the struggle are already planned. As it appears even more faculties will be swallowed by the wave of discontent as new mobilizations take place this week.
To be continued…