(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 07, 2012
Teachers Protest Dismal Education Scenario, Keep Hopes Alive
The FISE congress took place at a time when, as its Declaration emphatically noted, the barbaric capitalist crisis and the aggressiveness of imperialist powers against all the people and workers were making their lives increasingly difficult.
The Caracas Declaration of the FISE, adopted on this occasion, described education as “a key issue for the working class, the popular layers and its children, a key issue for the society, for progress and prosperity” which the policies and actions of the monopolies are blocking. These monopolies, which “continue to plunder the wealth that belongs to the people,” believe that the uneducated man obeys more easily and that a worker without education is more easily exploitable and cheap.
taking stock of the
status of education under the colonial system of yore and
under the hegemony of
monopoly bourgeoisie today, the declaration said the problems
persist because the
riches of the countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East
The Declaration pointed out that the production relations of today and the political choices of the bourgeoisie have severe implications for the working class and other masses around the world in the field of education. These problems concern access to primary education and literacy rates in each country; the quality and the cost of education; the content and the infrastructure; tuition fees, prices of books etc; education and training of teachers; the working conditions of teachers and all others working in educational institutions, and many other aspects.
The problems in the sphere of education have been much accentuated in the past few decades. The situation today is horrifying, as is evident from the facts and figures the Caracas Declaration gives.
illiterate people in developing countries exceeds 75 million.
One in eight
children does not go to primary school. About 55 per cent of them are
girls. In Asia, Africa,
the poor countries of
3) Millions of children have no minimum food; they are malnourished and sick. Others walk for miles to reach the place where elementary classes are being run beneath a tree, inside a hut, in shops or in ruins.
illiteracy rate for
the people aged 15-24 years in
5) Quite big is the percentage of children who are enrolled in schools but abandon their studies midway (dropouts). Approximately 25 per cent of children do not finish primary school while the percentage of those completing secondary education is only 45 per cent.
5) In 20 countries where armed conflicts are taking place, only one third of schoolchildren manage to survive. Human suffering, accentuation of poverty and elimination of education are inevitable results of the situations of violent conflict. The displaced children, refugees and undocumented immigrants stay unwanted in a country, with most of them not getting even basic education.
6) The rates of illiteracy can differ from country to country and from region to region. Moreover, they even differ for the two sexes in one and the same country. But the gigantic size and the class nature of the problem cannot be ignored.
no wonder that in
recent years, feeling worried, teachers, students and parents
strikes, mobilisations and struggles in many countries. In
December 2005 in
January 2006, a big strike
against privatisation of schools began in
strike began in
In Portugal in October 2006, 140.000 teachers went on strike. There were strikes against austerity, against the increasing of retirement age and against the freezing of promotions over the next few years as well.
In Nepal in May 2007, 35,000 schools with 7.8 millions of students did not operate because of a strike by the teachers who opposed the casualisation of those holding permanent positions.
During the winter of 2007, the trade unions under PAME in Greece ran a three months long campaign on education. Thousands of workers were informed on issues concerning education and teachers. The purpose was to make them realise that issues of education should be a concern of the working class as a whole.
In 2010, the PAME organised big strikes and demonstrations in 76 cities in Greece, and the teachers who are members of the trade unions affiliated to the PAME participated in all these mobilisations.
In Guinea Bissau in May 2009, teachers organised a big strike asking for their wages that had not been paid, reforms in the field of education, improvement of the equipment in schools, better teacher training and budget increases for education.
In Honduras in August 2010, a teachers’ strike lasted for more than three weeks. It was marked by brutal police attacks, injuries and arrest of dozens of protesters. The latter were demanding the payment of their insurance contributions or fees due since 2007 and the implementation of the agreement that was agreed to by the government of Zelaya, concerning wage increases and the protection of labour rights.
In Chile in 2011 and 2012, there were massive struggles of pupils, students and teachers. The WFTU supported these struggles and its general secretary and other members of the Presidential Council went to Chile to express their internationalist solidarity in person.
Other big or not so big strikes have been held in other countries as well.
BIG THREAT OF
Almost all over the world, a big threat to education is of its privatisation. Through privatisation, the ruling classes convert education from a social right into a commercial item for profit and speculation. The FISE Declaration expressed the organisation’s determination to firmly continue its struggle against privatisation.
The living standards of teachers vary from country to country but overall it is quite low. The burning problems affecting the teachers are of wage cuts, freeze of salaries, huge shortage of teaching personnel in schools, shortage of books, etc.
The FISE Declaration urged the trade unions affiliated to the WFTU and their members to contribute to the militant orientation of teachers. It urged the teachers worldwide to realise the specificity of their role as workers and as educators, to develop their class consciousness, to organise into class-oriented trade unions and to contribute to strengthening the class movement. More importantly, as far as possible within the class based education system of today, they must educate the people about their ideals and principles, and to develop militants who would defend the working class and its interests.
The Declaration asked the FISE members to promote the objectives of education as a social right and necessity, so that education is aimed to promote the welfare of the whole society. Education must be for continuous satisfaction of the people's needs and not for capitalist profit. The Declaration loudly announced: as yesterday so today, our people do have the power to shape their future.