The Socialist 10 December 2008 |
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Student struggle in Spain - time of revolt
Student protests against the education reforms in the Declaration of Bologna, part of the 1999 EU agreement, commenced in Spain in May 2008.
Johan Rivas and Denise Dudley
The anti-Bologna movement, as it is known, organised its first protests in the Autónoma University in Barcelona. A group of students occupied the dean's and faculty offices demanding that their concerns be heard and for participation in the organisation of their education.
According to the students, the reforms are a plan for privatisation of the university and will allow big business to decide what courses are the most 'productive' (for profiteers rather than for students). Students are concerned that courses such as philosophy, history and art will not be seen as productive.
They are also concerned that the reforms represent a change in the traditions of the Spanish government, to allow businesses into universities. In an interview one student explained: "When I started university I was given a student card. Now I have a credit card with a bank logo".
The protests have now extended into universities in Seville, Valencia and Madrid and to secondary schools. What was initially a simple protest has become a movement.
From the El Pais report it appears that the students have organised open assemblies in each university in which the reforms and protest plans are discussed. After each assembly various commissions are reported on and decisions voted on. Commissions include finance, propaganda and organisation of actions.
Students stated that: "Although we haven't had our demands met we have won because people are now questioning things". "We defend public services, for a just and organised society". "University isn't for the dean or the ministers. It's for the students, the lecturers and the rest of the staff".
It is not clear how this movement will develop. The lecturers believe it will finish as the students tire out. The government is attempting to portray the reforms as positive. Meanwhile consolidation of the movement continues in each university.
The background to this movement is the economic crisis which has hit Spain very badly. GDP is predicted to contract by 0.2% next year, while unemployment is predicted to climb to 15% by 2010.