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Newsletter (in English)


100,000 school students across Germany went on strike on Wednesday, November 12. In more than 40 cities there were rallies and demonstrations instead of classes. In many places, university students and teachers expressed solidarity. The walkout was directed against overcrowded classrooms, the lack of teachers and the reform of the “abitur” program (the high school degree which qualifies for university), shortening it from nine to eight years. The strike was also against Germany’s three-tiered school system, which leads to education levels in Germany being more closely tied to social status than in any other developed country.

Reports with numbers of participants are still arriving, but a provisional list includes: 10,000 school students in Braunschweig, 8,500 in Hannover, 8,000 in Berlin, 8,000 in Stuttgart, 7,000 in Bremen, 6,000 in Hamburg, 5,000 in Rostock, 4,500 in Kiel, 4,000 in Oldenburg, 5,000 in Lüneburg, 2,000 in Lübeck, 4,000 in Bremerhaven, 3,000 in Kassel, 3,000 in Frankfurt am Main, 2,500 in Göttingen, 2,000 in Cologne, 2,000 in Munich, 2,000 in Nürnberg – and thousands more in 20 further cities. In Potsdam, 150 students demonstrated spontaneously through the city centre before occupying a train and going to Berlin. In Dresden, there was a school students’ block at a university students’ demonstration with 6,000 participants.

This exceeded all expectations of the organizers. Aimo Belling from the Kiel strike committee commented: “The last time that 5,000 people demonstrated in Kiel on a weekday in November was probably in 1918”, referring to the German Revolution which broke out in the city exactly ninety years ago. Because one-day strikes aren’t enough, in the course of the day there were also more radical forms of protest. In Hannover, school students blocked the state parliament and they were brutally attacked by police. In Berlin, the Humboldt university was stormed: hundreds of young people forced their way into the ceremonial room and waved red flags from the balcony. In Erfurt, there was a brief occupation of the school administration building. In Oldenburg, a school was occupied and alternative classes were offered in the morning.

In May and June, 40,000 school students in almost a dozen German cities had come out onto the streets. The government promised improvements. But the “education summit” that was held on October 22 – without the participation of students – didn’t bring any concrete results. So after the summer there was a campaign for a coordinated national strike, which included a congress of 200 students in mid-October.

The independent youth organization REVOLUTION helped organize the strikes and demonstrations in Berlin, Kiel, Dresden and Potsdam. We put a special emphasis on building solidarity between the school strikes and workers’ protests, especially with the striking public sector workers (including some teachers) in Berlin. As we said in our speech in multiple cities: “We need to go out onto the streets with the workers! … If we want to reach our goals – free and good education for all – we need to fight together! If we fight for the control over the schools and the businesses, we won’t be dependent on the good-will of the bosses and the politicians they pay.”

The education protests will continue. To work out a strategy for these protests, we need to “look to the south”, to the education protests of recent months and years in France, Italy and Greece, where school students, university students and workers went on strike together against cuts in education and social services and were able to win their demands again and again. At the school strike demonstrations last week, the demand for a common strike of students and workers against the sad state of the education system was very popular. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the workers’ movement needs to be the strategic goal of these education protests.

by Wladek, Revo Berlin

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