Socialist Youth says: Fight for free education!

Make the super rich pay

Young people are being hammered by this Government. A generation of youth is being screwed with footing the bill for the reckless greed of the super-rich. In this morass of bank bailouts, cutbacks and mass unemployment, the basic right to education is now under serious threat!

The Fianna Fail/ Green Government’s plans to introduce a new ‘contribution’ fee, effectively doubling the reg fee to 3000, will undoubtedly force many students out of college and saddle others with huge amounts of debt, precisely at a time of economic crisis when ordinary families are struggling and there’s no guarantee of a good job, or even a job at all, on graduation. Part time jobs are virtually non-existent and the vicious Government also plan to cut the grant by a further 10%.

All of this comes on top of the general attacks on education in the last two years that have seen class sizes increase, cuts to special education support and and a shameful lack of college places – an indication of the backward trajectory of society under this system.

We need to fight back

Every cut in the next budget will exacerbate the problems we face and is a further declaration by the Government that the working class, students and young people will pay for this crisis.

Therefore the struggle against college fees has be be linked to the trade union and community campaigns against the Government’s austerity policies. It will not benefit anyone that fees are not increased, if it’s at the expense of our health service, public transport or other areas in the education system etc. More cuts and taxes on workers and young people will have a disastrous effect on the economy, which in turn will mean less jobs when we do go looking for them. In France recently, the right wing Sarkozy Government was justifiably frightened to see school and university students come out in support of striking workers – a reminder of the revolutionary events of 1968. Such a movement in Ireland would constitute a source of enormous pressure on the government, that could force a turnaround on their regressive education cuts and forcing an investment in public education.

Students must organise

The  protest on 3 Novemeber was a good start but in order to defeat fees, we must organise activist groups in every college that involves the largest numbers of students possible in building a real campaign. We need to recognise that USI’s emphasis on photo-opportunities, limited protests and lobbying is not enough to defeat fees. The budget’s overall attack on education represents an opportunity to build a massive campaign for free, quality education for all that encompasses those involved from the primary to the third-level sector. Unfortunately the USI’s solutions are no better than the problem; in response to the huge rates of unemployment among graduates they are campaigning for an ‘internship program’ that will see the Government (i.e. the taxpayers) pay graduates a ‘wage’ equal to the dole in order to be exploited by a lucky employer- who is under no obligation to keep the graduate on any longer than they feel like! What we need is for the student movement to fight not just against any (regardless of the amount) increase the college fees but to abolish all fees completely, introduce a living grant for students and to demand that the state plays a key role in providing every student with a job.

Oppose the failed capitalist system

The greed and profiteering at the core of the capitalist system has destroyed the economy. The austerity measures of the government, egged on by the EU, will obliterate it. Meanwhile, the super-wealthy elite that caused the crisis have gotten off scot free. They’re still rich but there will be no job creation by the private sector – they will only invest if they’re sure they can make high profits. Capitalism has nothing to offer us but mass unemployment and mass immiseration.

Socialist Party and Socialist Youth fight for a socialist alternative, whereby the chaos of the market system is replaced by a society in which the economy is democratically planned according to people’s needs – join us today.

This article was written before the protest and the use of violence by the police. A further article will be up in the coming days dealing with those events.