AB-T Solidarity Statement on the Quebec Student Movement

Reference: Ysh Cabana
E-mail: anakbayan.toronto@gmail.com

ANAKBAYAN-Toronto stands in support of the students, youth and public protests, which started in the province Québec and has a growing following across Canada. We extend our strongest solidarity to the student unions against the proposal to a sharp tuition fee increase of nearly 80% over the next five years.

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We echo the call of the people in articulating the ideals of public responsibility for education, equal access to quality education for all members of society and the right of students to participate in the collective building of their institutions against the strict conditions set forth by the government of Jean Charest.

The Quebec situation is not a fluke but an important part of the struggle of a global movement against an embattled future (environmental, economic, cultural). Massive student mobilizations have sprung up from Chile, Colombia, Brazil, UK, Spain, the US, to the Philippines and elsewhere.

Considering Canada’s political perspective, budget expenditures are characterized by priorities on tax cuts for the wealthy few and the withdrawal of portion of public funding for post-secondary education. Student debt for low-income students has soared as a result of double-digit fee increases. As if these working hard to peter out their burden would be enough no matter how profitable they are, education is commodified so youth would be declassified as the salaried bourgeoisie (if there are jobs at all with the grim prospect after graduation) to fall under the same tactics of exploitation. The issue is not just about tuition fee increase. That’s the same reason why the ruling class are opposing the students strike. That’s the same reason why propaganda campaigns are launched to denounce and demonize the students and their dissent, using whatever means necessary.

By the same token is Bill 78 is utilized to brutally crack down the monumental student strike. At its widest, the movement has mobilized over 300,000 in action. The marches have endured kettling and mounting pressure from the police. This law curtails the fundamental freedom of the citizens at large to assemble, express and demonstrate. It even goes beyond by punishing public expression of support for the demonstrations and by giving the police the power to decide whether a strike action is legal or illegal. This repressive measure has gripped Quebec ever since it was enacted.

We recognize that this crisis has similarly been happening in the Philippines. As classes have opened for this academic year, students are faced with unabated tuition fee hike and the implementation of the new K to 12 curriculum. For students, this means additional two years worth of schooling. For parents, an incessant race in sending their kids to school means additional costs. For the schools, this exacerbates an education already depleted of general content and consistent lack of equipment. For the country, it props up the neoliberal policy of the government towards a commercialized and colonial system, the same system which has a long history favorable to imperialist foreign interests, instead of gearing towards national development.

But if we want to put ourselves in the best position to win, the decision means that our goal should not be allowed to dissipate into mere rhetoric. This means spreading more active than ever the essence of pinning or using as a graphic symbol the red square felt everywhere. From 2005 when the idea of debt (“carrément dans la rouge” translated as “squarely in debt”) is cleverly thought of until the recent public pots and pans protest, we continue to draw important lessons from Quebec’s history of sustained political consciousness and collective organizing.

We must not only refute the tuition fee hike but also reaffirm that education in its very essence must foster critical public pedagogy.

Solidarity to student movements across the world!

Struggle for free and emancipatory education for all! Jusqu’a la victoire!

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