Free Education for All

After a busy day doing my best as a support worker at Gateway College, I joined a protest in Leicester to raise awareness about the horrific funding cuts being made to post-16 education.

As the skies opened up and the dreary drizzle descended upon our throng, I busied myself handing out leaflets and talking to passers-by about how we might collectively counter the dire attacks that continue to rain (rather hammer) down upon our education system.

Tony Church, who is the secretary of the Leicester and District Trades Union Council, which helped organize the event, explained to the Leicester Mercury: “The Tories talk about aspiration, but they are killing it for millions by cuts to sixth form and further education colleges” (October 14).

Workers from Leicester College at the protest had much to fight for, as the College’s grant from the Skills Funding Agency has just been cut by 17 per cent. This means they will receive £3 million less in support next year if opposition to the Tories cuts agenda remains unopposed. Staff will lose their jobs and student education will suffer.

These cuts are echoed nationally, and the union-backed campaign Save Adult Education makes clear that Government’s plans to impose a 24% cut on the adult education budget in England will be devastating. Such “cuts risk decimating further education provision and leaving many of the most vulnerable adults without crucial opportunities to improve their education,” explained the campaign’s leaflet.

The irony is that the rich, largely privately educated politicians, so content on degrading our children’s education, only won support from 24% of the electorate in May. They claim this is a sufficient mandate to simultaneously destroy the public education system and launch a vicious attack upon the trade union movement with their authoritarian Trade Union Bill.

In the past, students from even the poorest of families could look forward to a quality, adequately-funded education. But now this democratic ideal remains a dream for many, who can no longer afford the crippling and ever-rising debts associated with further education. Students, however, are helping lead the fight-back against the privatization of education. On Monday, for example, I will be speaking at a public meeting organized by a local branch of Socialist Students to help lead a discussion about Fighting Austerity in Education (6pm, Madison’s Cafe — 128 London Rd).

Student groups across the country already have plans to descend upon London, November 4, as part of a national demonstration to oppose cuts to education.

Jeremy Corbyn’s landmark victory has meant that more and more young people are beginning to engage with politics, sometimes for the first time in their lives. Student groups are thus keen to use their protest in London as a springboard for organizing the type of mass student movement that can unite with workers to end the Tories unwanted intervention into our, not their, education system.

This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on 14th October.

Socialist students

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