[07-08.04.2006] European seminar on education issues
A European seminar of communist and workers’ parties and personalities in the education field with the subject: “The Lisbon strategy and restructuring of education systems - Fronts of struggle and the response of the workers’ and communist movement” took place in Athens on 8-9 of April 2006.
The participants, delegates of 18 communist and workers´ parties and communist scientists from 19 countries, considered the meeting as particularly timely and constructive, making a significant contribution to the joint communist and workers’ parties initiatives, which had been put forward in the international meeting of communist and workers´ parties held in Athens in November 2005.
They greeted and expressed their full solidarity with the mass, militant struggle of the young and working people in France, for the immediate withdrawal of the offensive law for the “First Employment Contract”, which aims at the direct implementation of the reactionary “Lisbon Strategy”. The participants stated their commitment towards the further development of the international solidarity movement and stressed the need that solidarity is expressed in a more coordinate and determined way within the numerous resistance struggles in the education field, throughout Europe.
Through the facts presented by the participants, it has become clear that a widespread sweeping attack is currently taking place, both within and outside of the EU, in the field of education, in order to reform it in a reactionary direction. This attack, as has been stressed by the participants, is the result of the international demand of capital to adapt education and human beings to harsher, more exploitative “new” working relations and living conditions; to intensify the manipulation and control of the minds of the young generation. Several speakers underscored the devastating effects that the Bologna process will have on the highest education.
Especially following the Lisbon Summit, as well as the discussions in the frame of GATTS, the course of adapting education to the rules of the capitalist market has been accelerated, since this is dictated by the efforts to deal with the crisis, the quest of new sectors of activity for the big capital, as well as the acute competition of the markets of the three imperialist centers (EU, USA, Japan). This explains why education restructuring, in spite of differences in pace and methods in each country, has common characteristics, like the following:
1.The expansion of privatization, by decreasing the state expenses on education and by transferring the cost of education straight to learners and their families; also by the intrusion of private entrepreneurs into fundamental operations of education of all levels, beginning with Higher Education. This privatization entails the operation of state education units on competitive, private-sector criteria, as well as the pursuit of means of self-financing, through the profiteering invasion of the private sector as “sponsors”.
2. The strengthening of selection mechanisms and of class barriers aiming at the social selection of the elite, and the exclusion of the majority of students to short term vocational, instead of systematic, broad education; also, aiming at the division and classification of students of all levels in class differentiated categories and forms of education and training.
3.The narrowing of general education and the flagrant commercialization and downgrading of knowledge through the substitution of mass education by individual forms of “life-long learning”, utilitarian skills and subservient “competencies”, for life-long wandering between training and unemployment.
4.Discrimination against immigrants, nationalistic and chauvinistic stances, the defamation of peoples and other cultures by promoting in the same time “euro-nationalism”.
5.The complete perversion of the social mission of science through the control of its orientation, direction, and even its results, by the monopolies and imperialist organizations (NATO, EU), which interfere in a flagrant way and determine the scientific activity of universities and research institutions.
6. Systematic measures of obscurity, of anti-dialectic outlook on social evolution, of distortion and defamation of the national-liberating, social, antifascist and class oriented struggles, as well as attempts for the penalization of any resistance and any progressive and communist ideology.
The participants noted that the harsh consequences, for the working class and the people, of the education restructuring demolish the myth of the bourgeois policy that it is an attempt to qualitatively renew and modernize education on the basis of evolution in science, technology and production. Within this framework, it was underscored that the modern response of the workers’ movement should be the essential, and currently viable, quantitative and qualitative expansion of broad education of all young people, as a minimum prerequisite for any life-long choice and for the upgrading of vocational or scientific education that will be followed.
At the same time, the delegates condemned the deeply hypocritical claim of governments and of the EU, that the restructuring aims at fighting unemployment, underlining that the reasons for unemployment are not to be attributed to education, but to the capitalistic mode of production, which presupposes a permanent reserve of unemployed people in order to compress the demands of the workers to the lowest level and to intensify their exploitation.
Quite a few participants noted that the resistance and the struggles will be intensified. That in the face of the uniform strategy of the reactionary forces, there is an immediate need to intensify the joint processes and exchange of experiences regarding all education levels; to strengthen the bonds with the young people, with teachers, the parents and other personalities involved in education; to take concrete steps towards strengthening solidarity with the struggles for a better education.
The participants, expressed their readiness to intensify their cooperation, coordination and efforts on a national and European level, struggling for:
A Unified Popular Education, through a free and state education system, in contrast to the privatized and class-differentiated education, which extends social inequalities, actually starting from an early age. This need a general public refinancing of education.
Scientific research at the service of modern needs of the people, not of the monopolies, in order for science to stop being a tool for the acquisition of more profits and of overexploitation of the workers; for it to become a means for people to free themselves from material deprivation and intellectual chains.
The coordination of the education movement with the workers’ popular movement in a joint struggle against the capitalist restructuring in education, work and social life, against monopolies and imperialist institutions which impose a deeply class oriented policy. A struggle which will aim both at the imperative rebuilding of education and the reorganization of society as a whole. This is because, as long as profit is the measure of progress, neither education, nor science or people can be above it. Besides, problems in education derive from general social problems, and as such it is one of the most important issues which demonstrates the necessity and contemporary relevance of socialism.
In order to put forward the above mentioned objectives, significant contributions could be actions such as
1. Systematic mutual exchange of information on the current developments as well as the periodical sharing of conclusions and joint action in the face of the measures deriving from the EU and other imperialist institutions.
2. To project and disseminate the fundamental elaborations and proposals of the parties and of progressive marxist intellectuals from the field of education.
3. To examine the potential possibility of joint initiatives on a European level, either taken by the parties or by the movement with the opening of the new school year at September, as well as at the end of 2006 and on other occasions
4. To inform each other and coordinate action, so that solidarity is more systematically expressed on party and movement level.
5.To promote joint action within the movements and the intensification of the ideological front of struggle, taking into consideration the fact that education is an important tool of ideological control.
6. To address an appeal and invitation to progressive intelligentsia and teachers, to resist the reactionary reforms, not to yield or allow themselves to be converted into tools and vehicles of the new reactionary reforms
List of Participants
- Communist Party of Armenia
- Workers’ Party of Belgium
- Communist Party of Britain
- Communist Party of Bulgaria
- Socialist Labour Party of Croatia
- Communist Party of Bohemia Moravia
- Unified Communist Party of Georgia
- Communist Party of Greece
- Socialist Party of Latvia
- New Communist Party Netherlands
- Portuguese Communist Party
- Communist Party of Russian Federation
- Communist Workers’ Party of Russia – Party of the Communists of Russia
- New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
- Communist Party of Turkey
- Communist Party of Ukraine
- Annie Lacroix-Riz, Professor for the contemporary history at the University of Paris VII, France
- Andrea Catone Professor and Director of the Center of studies on Socialist Transition, Naples, Italy