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Invitation from the International Student Movement – UK

15/02/2011

Intro

Hello, This is the UK (and possibly western Europe) platform of the network called the International Student Movement.

I am contacting you to talk about what the ISM is, how it operates, and to gage a better interest from UK students and supporters. Many people here have seen some of the other countries demonstrating on the news, but how many of you know what the struggles are about and feel engaged? Many nations around the world have been fighting (in various ways) for Education, as well as the other austerity measures caused by the economic crisis. The revolts in Tunisia and Greece recently have shown just how much can be achieved when one country draws inspiration for others around it. Similarly, nationally, the different occupations and actions springing up over the UK since November this year have beentestament to this.

We want to unite people in their desires for free and fair education for all!

International Student Movement Condensed Invitation to the Spring of Resistance

To students, education workers, and friends of a free education,

The social movements in the 60s claimed universal access to education; ethnic, linguistic, and sexual minorities claimed legitimacy in academia. Since then, we have witnessed the ongoing erosion of these victories: increasingly punitive discipline over teaching practices, the strangulation of working-class education through underfunding, the re-assertion of nationalistic curricula, and many other outrages. The upsurge of militancy in reaction to recent austerity measures, both global in scope, reveals that people will tolerate the theft of a public good no longer. It presents us with a new challenge: can the revolt in defense of education become as global as the system which imposes on us, both in the form of the crisis, and in the ongoing attacks of the last forty years? And it presents us with an opportunity: given the failure of those who claim to lead us, what visions of free and liberating education can we now create?

The International Student Movement (ISM) aims to facilitate this kind of organisation. To this end, its coordinators have created several resources, including a mailing list, a newsletter, a website, and more. Check out the full list here: http://ism-global.net/ism_en
It is not the purpose of the ISM to restrict local autonomy; to issue directives to local organisations; or to sacrifice our greatest asset: the creative power of the grassroots. Rather, it is to encourage conversations between local organisations and the building of new, global models of resistance. We merely offer these tools as a gesture of solidarity.

To that end, we further invite you to participate in the Spring of Resistance (March-May; week of action 21-26; Day of Action 2 May). This will be a month of global action against the austerity programmes and for a universal, meaningful education. We hope that you embrace the opportunity to define what these ideas mean for you, in your situation, and to decide what action it is appropriate for you to take. Once again, it is not the purpose of the ISM to impose the Spring of Resistance upon student organisations. Rather, we hope that it will be perceived as an opportunity to invent new forms of resistance, at a new scale, to stretch our hands across borders and greet each other as brothers and sisters. The struggle did not begin with the ISM or this call to action, and it will not end with the Spring of Resistance. We are under no such illusions. But we can be sure, whatever happens, that it will leave us stronger, better organised, and, dare I say it, better educated.

Love and solidarity to you all,

Joint statement by the ISM. Please talk to your group about endorsing it: http://ism-global.net/international_joint_statement
Details for the Spring of Resistance:http://ism-global.net/SoR_2011

For more details, see below. The newsletter and contact details are at the bottom!

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What is the ISM?

The “International Student Movement” is an independent platform for groups and activists around the world to exchange information, network and coordinate protests in our struggle against the increasing privatisation of education and for free emancipatory education for all!

For over 2 years groups and individuals have been shaping and using the International Student Movement (ISM) platform to exchange information, network and coordinate protests against the increasing privatisation of education and for free emancipatory education on the global level.Towards the end of the year 2010 some activists began to initiate regional ISM platforms. So additionally to ISM Global, we now also have (at this stage only in form of facebook groups): ISM (Asia), ISM (the Balkans) and ISM (North America).

Why UK/Western Europe Addition?

In order to better co-ordinate news resources, actions, ideas, and generally engage more people, it was decided that regional platforms could improve communication, and keep it as relevant as possible to those on the receiving end.

The political mood in the UK has vastly changed over the past few months, since the economic crisis, and especially since the newly elected ministers came to power. Cuts in welfare and public services, and the push towards privitisation of public resources, education and healthcare have greatly worried many in society, particularly the working and middle classes. In a short space of time, the resistance in this country has become known to be low in comparison to other countries, save the ‘usual suspects’, but since the students concerned about the tuition fee caps and the cuts to education started rising, sparking at Millbank, this has been undone in record time.

The Student Movement, as it seems to be from the inside occupations at least, (not just a protest!) has become for many, part of University life. It stands us educated about the other options our government has to making these cuts, radicalised by police violence and now savvy to medical and legal practices, knowing how to learn and teach ourselves, in our own way, without formal leadership, on a mutual level, brave and organised about how to plan actions, and looking for better ways to build and put across the message, and make future demonstrations better.

The UK in itself has new information coming from all corners constantly at the moment, and the option to share this with each other easily in one place is a huge plus. For the ISM it means having better sources and a wider range of UK news to put out to different countries across the world. Similarly, when other countries send messages of solidarity to the UK, we can receive them and be sure that everyone in the UK student movement has access to them.

The movement here has recently slowed down, in part lacking direction; both of how to organise next, and what to aim FOR, rather than against. The ISM platform offers another way of discussing and planning the former with other members, though it does not seek to make decisions for the wider movement, but in terms of what we want from education it offers a clear set of ideas relating to how education should be. This may not be representitive for all students fighting the cuts, but I believe that many would benefit from looking at our aims, and those who agree with them will be in a better position to organise the ways in which we can be an active part in creating a better education.

What do we Want from You?

I am putting this message out to occupations, education groups and anti-cuts groups across the UK in order to make connections. Please note, however, that ISM is not looking only for support and participation from whole groups, but also individuals. There are many different roles that may be played by those choosing to identify with ISM-UK.

Avenues will be “…decided by direct participation and non-hierarchical organization through collective discussion… Anyone who identifies with the struggle against the privatization of public education, and for free and emancipatory education can join and participate on as well as shape the platform!”

These are just some ideas:

UK Casual

  • Joining the group and reading the updates
  • Signing the joint statement
  • Posting their own regional news, pictures and blogs to the page/group
  • Discussing the general direction on the forums
  • Spread the word – Repost!

UK Involved

  • Signing up to the mailing list to receive more information
  • Discussing real aims and methods in chat meetings
  • Sharing ideas for our own actions locally
  • Developing ways of acting nationally, either identifying with ISM or not
  • Offering skills and time for communication, design and technolgy
  • Host physical meetings
  • Hash tag #ISM-UK to update us on UK events

International Casual

 

  • Follow the ISM page, twitter and the website to find out about international struggles
  • Share links of interest to your friends/group
  • Download the newsletters
  • Post messages and pictures of Solidarity to education warriors around the world
  • Talk to people of different nationalities on the ISM forum about your experiences

International Involved

  • Sign up to the ISM mailing list
  • Discuss the worldwide aims of the movement, and the platform on global chat
  • Spread international student voices around the UK as much as possible, including at demos
  • Be inspired and learn from demonstration methods from other countries
  • Be part of the Spring of Resistance
  • Organise actions for the Spring of Resistance
  • Offer skills, including linguistic and those mentioned in UK
    Maybe even meet up with other students world wide, like in Paris at the moment

Why Sign the Pledge?

The International Joint statement found here:

http://emancipating-education-for-all.org/international_joint_statement

is a basic outline of what we are for and against, and is supported by many groups from different places. We would like to spread our ideas further, showing a united front, and help groups who do believe in this to get what they want to achieve.

Since the ISM platform was initiated in November 2008 the “International Day of Action against the Commercialization of Education” (Nov.5th 2008), “Reclaim your Education – Global Week of Action” (April 20-29th 2009), “Education is NOT for $A£€ – Global Week of Action” (Nov.5th + 9-18th 2009), “Global Wave of Action for Education” (Oct./Nov. 2010) and “Spring of Resistance” (March – May 2011) were coordinated. We strive for structures based on direct participation and non-hierarchical organization through collective discussion and action. Anyone who identifies with the struggle against the privatization of public education, and for free and emancipatory education can join and participate on as well as shape the platform!

A few positives of being involved with the ISM

  • Supporting the views expressed
  • Sharing ideas with a wider body of people, locally and globally
  • Being inspired and feeling solidarity with the world
  • Clear aims and direction
  • Spreading the story of our struggles in our country, and to other countries, not relying on mass media.

How we Operate

Currently the ISM platform works in a number of ways. We communicate news through all available channels: the website, social media, youtube, newsletters and occasionally email. Planning is generally done on global chat, emails, and on various mailing lists. There have been meetings in person, and now there are more regional groups. ISM has called for global days and weeks of actions.

The set up for ISM-UK has not been decided on, and will not be until the extent of participation from the UK is clear. It could be just for the UK, or cover Western Europe. It depends how well the facility is used. Personally I see this as a platform for networking the UK groups in a somewhat secure way. I see local groups and individuals contributing their news either to the UK platform, or directly to the International, and for the ‘top stories’ decided by those who wish to participate, to be put forward to the ISM. (people can of course participate more or less involvededly if they wish at any given time. Unless they volunteer to do a specific job they can come and go as they please to chats and not be taken less seriously than those who attend every session) If we want our own UK chatroom or newsletters, or any other resource it is possible. It depends on what the UK movement wants to take from ISM.

Spring of Resistance

One of the global actions currently being planned by the ISM is the “Spring of Resistance”. Rather than a day or week, it is planned to go from March through to May, essentially meaning the whole of Spring. The UK movement has had a slow but steady recovery of actions since the Winter holiday hibernation, but appears to be waking up to Spring time, with a call to re-occupy on Feb 24th, and of course the National TUC demo on March 26th. Anyone wanting to call out for independent actions (big or large) for SoR would be welcomed, as would anyone choosing to attend other demonstrations with ISM leaflets, slogans or banners, or giving a talk about the ISM in their occupations or on their blogs. Any way we participate is a positive, and adds to the global uprising, which should be felt in the coming months.

Emancipation for All

Free and emancipatory education does not only benefit students in schools and universities, but also society at large. We, groups and activists around the world on the ISM platform, say “Our Fight is Your Fight just like Your Fight is Our Fight” and call upon labour and the community at large to join in the fight students, teachers and parents are engaged in.

Massive protests were organized in various parts of the world including Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, not to mention South Africa, the UK, Ukraine and the U.S.A. in the past few months alone (see e.g. “Global Wave of Action for Education”). The demonstrations were not only against austerity measures that effect accessibility to education, but also to fight the increasing privatization of education, growing pressure to succeed, and a rising wave of questioning of the fundamental structures and functions of education systems.

To further the pressure locally and globally, groups, associations and individuals on the International Student Movement platform, who endorse the “International Joint Statement” came together to initiate the “Spring of Resistance” (SoR) from March to May 2011. That period will include a “Global Week of Action” (March 21-26th) as well as a “Global Day of Action” (May 2nd).

The framework of the SoR basically consists of the following three elements:

“International Joint Statement” (consider endorsing it!)
a united symbol (different versions are still being made)
common slogans
Individual groups and associations will organize their own actions during this period while the ISM provides the platform and the infrastructure to coordinate the mobilization across and between the regions. The timeframe of the “Spring of Resistance” marks an opportunity to strengthen the network between groups and activists and unite worldwide for free emancipatory education. Various social movements can be joined by the timing as well as by the framework of the “Spring of Resistance”.

In addition to sit-ins and demonstrations, events such as workshops and street theatre are planned by some to mark the resistance against the currently dominating education systems around the world. We want education for emancipation – not for profits!

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

The following protests and events as part of the “Spring of Resistance” have been confirmed so far:

Kick-off on March 1st, which marks the beginning of the Month of Action to Defend Public Education across the U.S.A..
During the same month groups in Canada, the UK and Germany already announced protests for free education as part of the SoR.

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Latest News

Here is the latest copy of Reclaim Education

http://www.archive.org/download/ReclaimEducation-Issue4/recedu-1101.pdf
It is a small compilation of recent news about education demonstration collected by the ISM. Feel free to copy and send on, or print and distribute!

Contact

ISM email

united.for.education@gmail.com
ISM-UK email

ISM-UK@riseup.net
ISM mailing list

international_students_movement@lists.riseup.net
ISM website

http://emancipating-education-for-all.org/
ISM facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/ism.global
ISM-UK facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Student-Movement-UK/102323336513755?created

ISM twitter

http://twitter.com/ISM030
ISM chat room

http://ism.speeqe.com/

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