Friday, April 24, 2009

Latvian students protest education cuts

DPA has a story on Latvian student protests. A few quotes:
Outside Riga Technical University, tourists looked on bemused as woodwork students expertly fashioned bird boxes which they claimed was the only affordable housing available to them.

"The government is going to cut the budget for higher education again by 40 per cent on top of earlier cuts. At the beginning of this year there was a cut of about 34 per cent so today we are holding our first demonstration," Avots said.
40 per cent cut on top of an earlier 34 per cent cut - that means that higher education budget would now be cut by a total of 60%. In other words, only 40% of the budget would remaining. It's becoming quite crazy here, in Latvia.

The full DPA story is here.


TRex said...

There appears to be little thought applied to the cuts being implemented in Latvia but 60% in any budget is the kiss of death! The ramifications when applied to education will echo for years to come.

mikii said...

Doesn't the budget cut apply only to government share in university budgets? afaik, government funding is basically used for granting free higher education for sort of best students and doing some research, the rest is financed from tuition fees of other students. therefore such a cut will mean 60% less free education for some and 60% less research, results of which didn't help latvian economy in the first place. and it will force state universities to compete with commercial universities for students that can pay; that should increase quality of education (which was somewhat neglected duringt "lardy years").
ok, my comment might sound a bit sarcastic (and srry 4 my engrish :D), but the main point is - universities should make less fuss about not getting free money, but start thinking how to make some. blame the management..

M. said...

Universities don't exist to make money. They are not a business.

Public education serves the public and not business interests.

Budget cuts always result in the need of public institutions to look for other sources of funding. Usually these sources come from the private sector. With the increasing influence of the private sector on public education it inceasingly also has an influence on the content and structure of public education.

But what do we have public education for??

What is its role within democracy?

Public education systems, from kindergarten to university, must prioritize emancipating aspects, be free and accessible to all. A democracy only exists, if society consists of emancipated and self-determined individuals, that are able to critically reflect their (social) environment, developments and power structures. Any system, that doesn’t fulfill these criteria is not a

Therefore this is NOT a question of management by individual universities.
But it is a question of wether one wants a public education system which serves private profit (or state) interests or democracy!

If you want a public education system serving democracy, then the population has to fight for that.

Budget cuts and the commercialisation/privatisation of public education can be observed around the world. Everywhere there are also movements struggling against these developments.

But these are also driven by global forces and are therefore difficult to fight on a local level.
Therefore groups and movements around the world are in the process of uniting.
For that a platform called "International Students Movement" was set up:
The "Reclaim your Education - Global Week of Action" just ended:

Another global week of action is in the making:

With each internationally co-ordinated protest we get stronger!!

Howard said...

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