Greek Students Fighting Privatisation

Panteio Athens University students at last Thursday’s students’ march


FOR the sixth week in a row, last Thursday many thousands of Greek university and school students staged militant marches in Thessaloniki and several other Greek cities against a government Bill for the establishment of private universities and the privatisation of public education.
Mary Kechagia, a student at the University of Thessaloniki, writes:
‘Last Thursday in Thessaloniki, the major city of northern Greece, a mass march once again took place against private universities, with hundreds of university students, as well as school students, teachers and workers participating.
‘One week after the great nationwide mobilisation of 8 February in Athens, the spirit of the student movement remains enduring, as the capital was “flooded” by over 30,000 students.
‘This fact gives hope to the students to continue their struggle, overthrowing the government Bill with occupations as a weapon and standing in the way of the repression and extortion of the Education Ministry and the government.
‘During the march in Thessaloniki, the armed MAT riot police forces stormed in and tried to break the students’ blocks by throwing tear-gas. However, the students were not deterred and continued their march in unity and en masse, demanding the withdrawal of the police.
‘The march had as an important stopping point at the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace, where the slogans were heard: “Pierrakakis (Education Minister), come out, open your eyes – To see minorities carrying out occupations”, “No more disorientations – Forward to occupations, clashes, demonstrations”, “The river does not turn back”, “Kyriakos Pierrakakis, listen carefully – This bill will be set on fire”.
‘Other slogans that prevailed were ‘Rag-paper degrees, private schools – The law will fall by the students’, ‘Bypassing the Constitution, useless degrees – Down with the New Democracy’, ‘Hands off of our degrees’.
‘Immediately after the completion of the march against the establishment of private universities, a coordination meeting of the students’ associations general meetings and of the occupations committees of the University of Thessaloniki, was held in the building of the Old School of Philosophy.
‘It was then that armed MAT riot squads invaded, breaching the university asylum, and threw tear-gas and noise-flash canisters at the entrance to the New Philosophy School, while other MAT squads were stationed in the Chemistry Square and outside the Central Library of the University.
‘Students gathered outside the Philosophy School and unified their forces chanting ‘Hands off the university asylum – Asylum belongs to all the people’, ‘Cops out of university schools’, ‘MAT, violence, police-state’, ‘From Thessaloniki to Komotini – Cops will never enter our schools again’ and ‘We are not terrorised by arrests and tear gas – Law is the the struggle’s right’.
‘Thus, the students proved that they are not afraid of the blackmailing and threatening actions of the government, which aim to downgrade their degrees and destroy their professional prospects!
‘In conclusion, the struggle of students against private universities is one of the most important struggles of the last decades in Greece. As in 2006 and 2007, students will continue to fight for the conditions of their admission and study in state universities, as well as for the professional rights offered by their degree, with the ultimate goal of ensuring free and state education in our country.’