★ ISM - UK
Taipei, March 26th:
Protest against Tuition Fees
Anti-Commercialisation Platform Initiated
Not only in Canada students are currently struggling against increasing tuition fees but also in Taiwan, where the government announced plans to hike fees by 10% last week. A final decision on this issue is expected by the end of April, but students are angry and didn't want to wait.
Close to 100 students, teachers and labour union activists got organised and gathered in front of the Ministry of Education in Taipei to hold a "Press Conference". Various speeches were held, a rather huge media presence covered the event and the activists did not let the huge police force at the spot intimidate them.
Tsai Chung-yi (蔡忠益), section chief of the MOE’s Department of Higher Education, faced the students, but only spread hot air saying that a final decision has not been taken yet and that he will forward the message to the minister. Since the minister or chief secretary didn't come out to receive their demands and to express their dissatisfaction with the reaction to their protest activists decided to tear up a huge poster with their goals.
It listed the following three points:
The protest was also used by the activists to express their unity with the ongoing student strike in Quebec and with education activists worldwide. After all this is a common struggle and we are all in this together.
Many of the protesters came from different parts of Taiwan and were also participants of a forum organised by the student union of the National Taiwan University (NTU) as well as the Humanities Club at the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) that took place during the previous three days. The forum was used to discuss and reflect on the increasing commercialisation and corporatisation of education as well as the global dimension of the struggle for free emancipatory education.
Many students in Taiwan - just like in many other parts of the world - are highly indebted. Each year about 400,000 students are forced to take up loans. Of course the tuition fees are also a heavy burden for many parents who support their children.
Following the protest dozens of students involved in student unions and activist groups from across Taiwan gathered at the college of social science of NTU and initiated a network: The Anti-Commercialisation of Education Union (反教育商品化聯盟) - Free Education Movement!
On March 30th a press conference together with the National Teachers Union was held. (video report: nexttv.com.tw)
More news from the activists in Taiwan can be expected in the next few days and weeks.