Documentos / Documents

Este espacio está abierto también a las personas / organizaciones que no pueden venir a la Asamblea de Valencia y quieran hacernos llegar sus aportaciones.

This space is also open to organizations and people who cannot attend the Assembly in Valencia, but who want to contribute with their proposals.

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2 Respuestas a “Documentos / Documents

  1. I cannot be in Valencia this weekend. I wish to submit the following proposals for the consideration of the Assembly:

    1) that the Network establishes a multi-lingual website – not for ‘internal’ discussion – but for reports, documents, commentaries, analyses and resolutions relating to educational experiences and conflicts in Europe. (The website of APED offers a model.)

    2) that the network establishes electronic working groups to prepare publications on the major issues facing education. For instance, privatisation, racism and migration, pedagogy and curriculum, the education of young children. Such publications could address the question of alternatives, as well as offering analysis.

    3) that the network makes use of the ESF website for discussion among its members – information, analyses, controversies, strategies.

    Some notes on these proposals:

    a) as members of the network (Joelle. e.g.) have suggested, the potential to contribute to creative discussion is not limited by the size of an organisation. There are very rich experiences of educational and social movement practice from which the network might draw – inside and outside the major trade unions. The network must in this sense be inclusive.

    b) ours is a network with few rules but several important responsibilities: inclusivity, consensus and a willingness to discuss ideas are among them. I hope the proposals can be accepted, and implemented with such principles in mind.

  2. Richard Hatcher and Ken Jones

    ________________________________

    A contribution to debate in the ESF Education network.

    Richard Hatcher and Ken Jones

    1. Nico Hirtt has recently written, very usefully, about the education policy issues that opponents of neo-liberalism need to address.

    2. This contribution is of a different kind: it reflects on the
    experiences of opposing neo-liberalism, and discusses stragetic questions, including:

    * which social forces have been involved in the struggles?
    * how have these social forces related to each other?
    * what forms of struggle have been adopted?
    * to what extent have these struggles been ‘Europeanised’?
    * what is the balance-sheet (bilan) of these struggles?

    3. It is, of course, only a preliminary document – and relates only to Western Europe, not the East. Two people, from a single country, cannot possibly take the measure of the variety and the depth of the struggles that have occurred. Nevertheless, we think it’s important to begin the discussion. We think the network needs not only to discuss programmatic objectives, but to analyse, critically, our own strategies and
    experiences.

    4. To generalise: there have been two principal protagonists involved in the fight against neo-liberalism in education. The first comprises education and public sector trade unions. These have rallied in defence of jobs, against cuts, and in favour of education understood as a public good, not a commodity. The second comprises movements of youth, both within and beyond education. The mobilising issues here have focused on precarity – though precarity means very different things for the
    scholarised youth of the lycees, compared with the ‘other youth’ of the banlieues.

    5. At some points – France 2006, Italy 2008, Greece 2008 – the struggles waged by these different forces have coincided. At other times, they have not. So far as we know, the fights launched by students in Austria and in Germany (2009) have not had a strong resonance in the trade unions. In Britain, conversely, there have been a number of local strikes over cuts and job losses in universities, with strong trade union participation, but relatively little action on the part of students.

    5. The forms of struggle and organisation have been varied: strikes, occupations, riots, mass demonstrations, pickets. One notable feature has been the takeover of public space – taking the classroom into the streets (France) – embodiments of an education threatened by neoliberalism (France), blocking the city (Italy), pickets of banks (Germany). The effect of these actions has been to emphasise that education is a major social question, not only one of sectoral concern. The organisation of the struggles has taken place via trade unions, but also via inclusive popular assemblies, and via new networks, such as that of the ‘disobedient’ primary teachers in France.

    6. Given the diversity of social forces, it is not surprising that there is a diversity of political orientation. This diversity includes (often in combination):

    * an emphasis on the educational crisis as a crisis of funding; here, issues of cuts, jobs and access are important. This has been the main emphasis of educational unions.

    * an emphasis on the current crisis as a crisis of knowledge production. From this perspective, the economised knowledge promoted by the Lisbon Declaration and sustained by the Bologna process is criticised.

    *To the issues of access and opposition to cuts is joined a third issue: what kinds of knowledge production can support a just and equal society?

    * an emphasis on the privatisation of educational institutions as public assets, with consequences for both the nature of educational provision and the extent to which institutions are democratically accountable.

    * an emphasis on issues of equality, in particular the defence of the educational interests of children and young people from working class and poor backgrounds and from minority ethnic groups.

    Some sections of the social movement are much more critical than others of the existing education system. In the Italian protests of 2008, for instance, the injustices and corruption of the existing University were sometimes as much a target for opposition as the policies of Berlusconi.

    It is significant that these developments have occurred largely without the participation of traditional social democratic parties – whose main concern has been to manage the crisis, not to lead action against its effects.

    7. Particularly at the level of the movements of students and youth, opposition to neo-liberalism has been Europeanised. The same slogans are reproduced in many languages. What happened in Germany encouraged
    developments in Austria. The Greek uprising of 2008 was on such as scale as to deter Sarkozy from further ‘reform’ of the lycee – he feared a French ‘Greece’. Among educational unions, the tendency to Europeanisation is so far less strong. There are, of course, official expressions of solidarity, but there is less of a tendency for forms of struggle to cross frontiers, and the relationship of educational unions to EU policy, and to the Bologna Process, has often been ambivalent.

    8. A balance sheet? The attempts of European governments to cut, privatise and ‘economise’ education systems will continue – and will provoke opposition. The parties of the centre-left are thoroughly involved in this process.

    Movements in many countries have succeeded in making the implementation of these reforms a matter of controversy and conflict. Significant new social forces have emerged. However, the reform projects of government have not been defeated. Governments have experienced setbacks; in some cases, they have had to delay the timetable of reforms, or to offer concessions to protestors. But they have been determined enough to withstand protest campaigns that have often lasted several months, and their overall programme remains in place.

    9. Social movements thus face difficult questions. What strategies, what alliances can make a difference? How can educational struggles be linked to broader political programmes? The ESF education network has the potential to address these issues, and to organise productive discussions. But to do so it must address some of its own problems:

    * in terms of its membership, it represents education unions more than it does the newer social actors that have emerged in several countries.

    * it has a history of addressing policy issues, rather than strategic ones;

    * it has developed a style of debate (platform – tribune – dominated) that does not help to develop an exchange of experience.

    * it has tended to restrict its public activities to the rhythm and context of the European Social Forums.

    10. We hope the Berlin assembly can discuss some of these general issues of
    strategy and the way they relate to the functioning of the network. To do so, would be a real step forward.

    For a further contribution to an analysis of education reform in W Europe see Ken Jones, Patterns of conflict in education: France, Italy, England

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