June 25: "Educational Strike" across Germany

June 25:
"Educational Strike"
by (School) Students across Germany

A network of (school) students, the teachers' union (on the regional and local level) as well as trainees arranged rallies as well as other protest activities in different cities across Germany on Wednesday, June 25th. Basically their anger is directed against three tendencies - all of which can also be observed in many other parts of the world:

  • the chronically underfunded public education system and all its negative implications;
  • the basic selection processes (e.g. through grading systems, entry tests, financial burdens), which make up an essential part of the predominant educational system;
  • undemocratic structures and increasingly authoritarian "top-down" management approaches in schools and universities.

Other focuses were also the struggle against an atmosphere of increasing competition and pressure to perform as well as precarious working conditions, such as "hire-and-fire" practices at educational institutions. In recent years a reform in some federal states which cut the years until graduation for A levels by one year gave the pressure to perform for school students an additional boost. Also the increasing lack of affordable living space is a significant problem.
In the end the call to action summarizes that the struggle is for "a democratic, inclusive, civil (i.e. no research for military purposes) and critical educational landscape".

The first "Bildungsstreik" (translated: "Educational Strike") took place in 2009. The common label "Bildungsstreik" connects groups and alliances on the national level, which arrange their own activities autonomously on the local level.
Although this helps to get more people engaged, in the end it also blurs the picture on what the movement is all about. On one hand there are some who focus on revolutionary ideas, such as the abolition of grading systems and selection mechanisms, which helps to make the boundaries as well as oppressive character of the predominant system visible. On the other hand unions and groups (probably the vast majority of them) rather focus on budget cuts, class sizes, "quality of education" and some even argue that "they" are the future elite and therefore the state should have an interest to invest in their human capital; after all it's in the interest of "the nation". Consequently a clash of different analysis and therefore different targets (social and economic system vs. personalized targets, like an "evil" government, university management or other authorities) of the protest activities can be observed.

These tendencies are probably nothing new in many parts of the world with a variety of civil society. But radical criticisms and approaches to predominant social conditions are seemingly neglected in the public discourse, especially when they are transported together with an analysis, which is based on personalized targets - usually propagated by opposition parties, unions and parts of civil society. This raises the question how discussions based on radical - and therefore structural - analyses of problems that we all experience within the educational system can be encouraged more effectively.

on twitter: @bildungsstreik | #bildungsstreik14

Here is an attempt to give an overview of the activities related to the latest "Bildungsstreik":

Berlin

Around 130 people came together for a smaller rally at the Humboldt University.
The main focus here was on the lack of public funds. It is estimated that the university needs an additional 10m Euros annually to run properly. At the same time the government promotes competition among universities and puts public money into so called "excellence initiatives" to create internationally competitive flagship projects in research, instead of improving study and working conditions on a broad basis.
Following the rally a seminar focussing on the current study and working conditions at the Humboldt University took place.
To reflect on the protest and consider future activities an open meeting is scheduled to take place in August.

A teach-in together with refugees organised by students at the Free University of Berlin had to be postponed by a week due to a school occupied by asylum seekers being threatened with eviction surrounded by 1,000 cops. A (school) student strike with a huge rally in solidarity with the refugees is planned for July 1st.

sources: neues-deutschland.de | facebook.com | facebook.com [teach-in] | twitter.com

Cologne

Up to 300 students from universities and schools gathered for a demonstration and gained attention by walking through the city centre. The main focus was on the more public funds for education and the demand to back the school reform cutting one year before A level examinations.


"for better education"

sources: koelncampus.com | report-k.de | wdr.de (video report)

Leipzig

From across Saxony up to 10,000 students, teachers and profs rallied in Leipzig. These past few months plans to cut 1,000 staff positions at the University of Leipzig by 2020 made the round, although the number of students . Also other universities in Saxony expect to suffer cuts in public spending during the next few years.
That's why the demonstration was also supported by the administration and rectors of universities within the federal state.

sources: mdr.de | leipzig-fernsehen.de | sz-online.de | info-tv-leipzig.de (video report)

Rostock

300 people came together for a rally in Rostock to protest for more public spending on education.


"more money for our future - education needs priority!"

sources: nnn.de | nordkurier.de

Wiesbaden

Up to 3,000 people kicked off a demonstration in front of the central station in Wiesbaden, the capital of the federal state Hesse. The protesting crowd focused on the lack of state funding for public education, overcrowded seminars and lectures, as well as high semester registration fees at universities and the increasing lack of affordable living space.
The arrival in Wiesbaden was organised by student unions from various cities in Hesse.


"more time for good education"


"no education production for the economy!" - "militarism out of university!" -
"dear state, don't be afraid of critical citizens"


"education for the revolution!" - "overthrowing instead of cutting"

sources: fnp.de | welt.de | hr-online.de (video) | hr-online.de | wiesbadener-kurier.de
credit for the pictures from Wiesbaden: Carmelito Bauer (among others)

Further activities linked to the day of action also took place in the following cities: Erfurt, Jena, Frankfurt/M.

If you have any further information on #bildungsstreik14 to be added, feel free to contact the author directly: united.for.education@gmail.com.