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”
The following appeal was initiated by some academics at the University of Zürich (Switzerland) and originally published on www.zuercher-appell.ch. By now this appeal is being endorsed by more than 1.000 people around the world. Although it is only focussing on one of the aspects included in this international joint statement, you might want to consider signing it as well.
for the Protection of Academic Independence
Now that cooperation between the private sector and public universities has all but become the norm, in Europe as elsewhere, it is time to ask some basic questions: What is a university? And what is its role in society?
Universities grew out of the idea of establishing a place where freedom of research, education and scholarship is protected and beyond venal influence. They serve the common good and in turn are supported by the community. Directly linked to this founding idea is the academic ethos that preserves the institution of the university as a special place, free from political, ideological and commercial interests. Freedom of teaching and research is protected by the Swiss Constitution.
Against this background, it is self-evident that a public university should neither cooperate with nor accept sponsorship from institutions associated with public scandal or unethical conduct. That is damaging to the academic reputation of any university. And it impinges upon the independence of the scholars concerned, particularly those directly funded by such institutions, undermining their status as guarantors of independence and ethically-minded scholarship.
The University of Zurich was born of this same spirit of independent thinking in 1833. It is “the first university in Europe to be founded by a democratic state instead of by either a monarch or the church”. This proud claim stands to this day on the university’s website. The question is: are today’s universities still sufficiently independent in an age of cooperation and sponsorship?
In April 2012, the Executive Board of the University of Zurich concluded a cooperation agreement, in camera, with the top management of UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland). The agreement entails sponsoring of the university by UBS to the tune of 100 million Swiss francs and the establishment of a “UBS International Centre of Economics in Society” within the scope of the university. Neither the public nor the research and teaching staff were asked their opinion. The agreement between the university and UBS was concluded secretly in the spring of 2012.
This procedure brings the issue of sponsorship into sharp focus. The Executive Board of the University concedes that the bank is using the university as a platform to further its interests. However, UBS is a particular case of a business that has been shown in the past to have engaged in unethical practices. The fact that the bank was able to place its logo at the University of Zurich has nothing to do with scholarship and everything to do with marketing.
It is a glaring example of the problematic nature of academic sponsorship. But there are many more instances, in other European countries, of questionable university sponsorship deals. In one case, in June 2011, Deutsche Bank had to withdraw from a controversial sponsorship arrangement because of justified public criticism. This shows that sponsorship involving specific vested interests and secret deals – in contrast to altruistic patronage and donation by benefactors – represents a threat to the impartiality of university research and teaching. The very academic ethos is at risk.
As citizens, researchers, academics and students, we appeal to the leaders of the universities and all who bear responsibility for our educational institutions, at home and abroad, to safeguard the precious heritage of free and independent scholarship, and to avoid endangering the academic ethos in controversial collaborations.
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.
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.
Activities Worldwide related to the
GLOBAL EDUCATION STRIKE
The following is an overview of many of the activities related to the GLOBAL EDUCATION STRIKE (Oct.18 + Nov.14-22) sorted by dates and locations. Basis of the GES was this call to action as well as the international joint statement.
Sorted by dates:
✖ October 18 (Global Day of Action to Reclaim Education -- Direct Democracy NOW!) ✖
Sorted by locations (number in brackets indicates the date for locations with more than one entry):
Want to make any corrections? Noticed anything missing? Do you have any questions or comments?
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