Students restart the movement

Submitted by AWL on 12 January, 2011 - 4:14

26 January will be the first protest of the new year, a walkout from schools all over the UK. The next protest will be three days later, on Saturday 29 January.

The student movement against tuition fees and cuts to the teaching budget and Education Maintenance Allowance, which shook the country last month, is regrouping after Christmas and the January exams.

Trade unions should send delegations to join the protests on 26 and 29 January.

University students should occupy where possible, and join the walkout demonstrations if they can’t occupy.

University activist groups should get in touch with school students and give them help in organising walkouts.

The student movement needs structures that can act fast, draw in new people, sustain the mobilisation if there is another dip or pause, and link up with the trade unions.

School students need to organise regular meetings in their schools, and also meet regularly with students from other schools in their city or borough. University anti-cuts groups need to do the same. University occupations should offer to host these organising meetings.

At the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts conference on the 22nd, the way ahead nationally will be planned, and the NCAFC will decide on structures that can help it sustain itself as a durable organisation.

NCAFC has already called for National Union of Students (NUS) president Aaron Porter to resign, and for a special NUS conference. On the 22nd it will plan for intervention at the regular NUS conference in April.

The rail union RMT in London called on its members to back the 9 December student march. We can build on that.

Students should assist unions in their disputes with collections, demonstrations and action, and trade union activists should invite students to speak in branch and workplace meetings, and go to demonstrations.

And we should fight to make the leaders of the trade unions and the Labour Party support the student movement.

• Details and leaflets for 22, 26 and 29 January:

Organising at school

Robin Coleman, Cherwell School

EMA [Education Maintenance Allowance] is very important to many students. You have to pay adult bus fares once you are in the sixth form. If the government cuts EMA, we can expect attendance to fall. It would just be a stupid thing to do.

We have mostly had support from teachers. They fear showing public support for our campaigns because they are not allowed to condone absence from school. Many of them have decided to not take any action against us if we protest. Some have even been on the demonstrations.

I have been trying to learn as much as possible about the proposals to change EMA and tuition fees, and then help explain these in literature and meetings. It is very difficult when you have government ministers on television every other day claiming that students will be paying less under the new system.

Friends have been talking to local trade unions to try and co-ordinate the wider anti-cuts campaign. This is important because we can collectively build momentum for protests. The student movement has died down a bit since the tuition fees bill got through parliament, but I am confident it will pick up again.

The school system at the moment is designed to guide young people as to how to fit in to society, rather than how to change it. You have to have more of a balance between teaching people how to simply fit in, and teaching people how to influence the world around them. This is probably why there is a lot of political apathy at the moment. Schools have to inspire people that they can bring about change.

My friends are generally "left wing". Some are more socialist than others. I am a Green. I support the Green party because I think that the current generation of mainstream politicians have completely misdiagnosed today's economic problems. They will keep trying purely financial solutions, until the economy is bankrupt. What we have today is really a crisis of resources rather than a crisis of money.

Obviously there are also many socialists who think that the politicians have the wrong priorities at the moment.

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