Germany: Break down the blockades to education!

8,000 school students strike and march in Berlin

Strikes in the public sector are currently shaking Berlin’s political landscape. However it is not only the police, nurses, public transport and the council workers that are fed up with the cuts policies still being carried out by the city’s so-called "red-red" coalition of the SPD and DIE LINKE, the social democrats and the Left party. Last Thursday saw a militant demonstration of thousands of striking school students march through the Berlin inner city.

The combination of growing pressures on school students to "perform" despite the cutting out of one school year that has reduced education from 13 to 12 years, too few teachers, too many school students in one class (30 on average in the higher school levels) and also the introduction of a an annual charge of 100 euro per school student for teaching materials "make the school situation in Berlin a catastrophe".

The school students demanded 3,000 more teachers, the withdrawal of the charge for teaching materials and called for a different school system so that after primary school children are not sent to schools on the basis of their parents’ wealth.

In a OECD PISA (programme for international student assessment) study comparing different countries and their education system – Germany was shown to be one of the main countries where getting good education was dependent on parents.’ wealth

"No to Super-Stress" and "Rich parents for everyone" were demands that many students put on their self made posters and banners. Members of Socialist Alternative (SAV – the CWI in Germany) were active in the pre-strike mobilisation, produced a special edition of their paper Solidarität and spoke at the protest. The SAV rapper Holger Burner accompanied the protest with militant music.

Before the strike, activists from the "Tear down the Education Blockade" school students strike alliance went to many different schools in the city to build strike committees and hold political workshops to mobilise support.

Jenny Trost, one of the active members of school students’ initiative and member of the SAV, said in her speech at the demonstration: "Let us build a movement against education and social cuts. Let us fight together and let us give the ruling politicians and the companies behind them hell."

Now a school student conference will draw a balance of the strike and plan the next steps for new protests in autumn. If the red-red government would have not fulfilled their demands up to this time – the school students will take strike actions again.

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