Pupils, students and apprentices fight back – The struggle against cut-backs must be intensified!

This editorial statement was distributed as a pamphlet in hundreds of copies at the recent student conference in Copenhagen on Wednesday, September 22.

The politicians and the media are trying again and again to portray young people as lazy, spoiled and careless. But we are not! That is, among other things, what we are proving today by assembling to discuss our education.

We are assembling because the conditions in the schools around the country have deteriorated; the size of classes is rising, the schools are becoming dilapidated, study grants are reduced, school training (which helps apprentices) is cut, the quota system (which serves to reduce the importance of grades, when students want to go to university) is wound up, and so on. Cutbacks are permanently on the order of the day – now we have had enough!

The bourgeois government

While the bourgeois government has been in power, cutbacks have definitely been on the order of the day. But the government is not only cutting back, it is also trying to change the education system in different ways. Among other things, it is working to promote education for the elite instead of broad education for everyone, and it is trying to run the schools as enterprises.

But the bourgeois are actually doing what the bourgeois must do. The bourgeois parties represent the interests of the upper class and big business. The rich have lots of money to pay for a good education for their children, so they are indifferent to the demands of a good education for everyone.

We cannot accept a development towards a school system for the elite. Education is a basic human right. Today it is a fact that kids often follow the pattern of their parents; the child of a craftsman becomes a craftsman, the child of an academic becomes an academic, and so on. We must stop a school-system where your future in many cases is determined already from your birth.

How can we use this conference?

This conference is a step forward, because all groups of youth are present. Pupils’, apprentices’ and students’ best (and only) weapon is to unite and fight together. Through national demonstrations on the opening day of parliament, October 5, pupils, students and apprentices will be able to express their dissatisfaction with the policies applied by the government, and maybe get some of the demands carried through. The first step must therefore be to mobilize as many pupils, students and apprentices as possible for these demonstrations. But we must not blindly believe that this automatically will result in concessions on all our demands and stop all the cutbacks. In the recent years, nearly all sorts of pupils and students have been on the streets and protested, some times all together and other times confined to the specific group of students, but nevertheless cutbacks have continued.

A conscious plan is necessary

A single day of action is of course a good thing, but is in itself unfortunately not enough to get the cutbacks stopped. A conscious plan must be made if the demands are to be met: a plan for an escalation and a widening of the struggle. First and foremost, the STOP-NOW initiative must be built as a permanent organization for all students, pupils and apprentices (at the moment there are different student unions specifically for each group of students).

Additionally, an alliance must be built with the trade union movement, and the workers’ parties; the Social-Democratic Party, the Socialist Peoples’ Party and the Unity-list, whose members are the only ones who have a genuine interest in an education system for everyone, and who have force to put behind words. But an alliance must be more than a bag of money and declarations of solidarity. An alliance must be an alliance of struggle for better welfare. The only way to achieve a better welfare system is with a new government. The welfare system and the education system are political questions, and that is why we young people cannot be apolitical. The trade unions have also begun to discuss the need for a new government. Recently, a conference was held with 700 shop stewards and representatives from the workers’ parties. Unfortunately, this meeting did not pass any plan of action to throw out the government due to the bad role of the leaders.

The STOP-NOW initiative must appeal for rank-and-file members of the unions to put pressure on their leaders to call for united action with mass demonstrations and strikes, in order to put down the bourgeois government and its policies of cutbacks.

A new government?

But a new government, in itself, is not the solution. We do not want a government like the one in the 90’s composed of the Social-Democratic Party and the Radical Lefts (a small center-bourgeois party), which also made cutbacks on education.

We have no need for a government that is cutting back when the economy is badly off, but a government that is based upon the demands of the youth and the workers. In the last analysis, it is a question of who controls the economy. Enormous surplus exists in Danish firms and enterprises, but at the moment they are in the hands of a few individuals. That is why a programme against cutbacks necessarily must include the demand for a government that is ready to nationalize the big companies, so the enormous wealth in society can be used democratically for the benefit of the majority. In other words; a workers’ government carrying out socialist policies!

We fight for:

  • An end to all cutbacks in education, more money must be injected to the schools
  • Education for everyone
  • Students grants for everyone, at the same level as the minimum wage
  • Free admission to all higher educations (including university)
  • Placements for all apprentices
  • Abolition of all user’s fee
  • A health and safety at work act for all pupils, students and apprentices
  • A permanent organization jointly for all pupils, students and apprentices
  • A conscious plan for the continuation of the struggle
  • An alliance of struggle with the trade unions and the workers’ parties
  • A workers’ government on a socialist programme!