European Education Ministers meet in Kyiv: Counter Forum Prohibited + Protesters detained
Friday, September 23, 2011
Education ministers from across Europe met in Kyiv (Ukraine) for the so-called Forum of European Education Ministers hosted by the Ukrainian government today. Since people in the Ukraine struggle against the increasing commercialisation of education just like everyone else around the world, some students decided that this meeting could not just take place silently.
More than 100 students gathered to voice their opposition to the dominant education policies in the Ukraine and across Europe. The protesters were faced with a massive police presence: even riot police was to keep the students from voicing their opposition.
The police was aggressive and at some stage attacked protesters. Four activists, three of whom are members of Direct Action (a network of independent student trade unions), were detained. The police “offered” to release them in exchange for everyone to stop protesting. But since they saw that this “offer” had no effect, the activists were fortunately released a few minutes later.
The Direct Action network planned to hold a students’ counter-forum (“The Other Side of Education”) during these days, but it was prohibited by a court ruling. Obviously this decision is in violation of the freedom of assembly. According to the law, this freedom can only be restricted if there is a direct threat to national security or public order.
Since “The Other Side of Education” was prohibited, students decided not to set up an encampment as planned, but to march through the city center of Kyiv instead.
The current education reforms in the Ukraine (like in most other parts of the world) are aimed at cutting public spending on education and further commercialization of the education system as a whole. This would make it harder for the financially poorer parts of society to attain an university degree.
In this report from the scene of events on the Ukrainian channel STV, a police spokesman labels the protesting students common “football hooligans.”
Photo by zip-cn2. See their complete photo reportage of the counter forum here.