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3rd European Meeting on Education, Contribution by KNE, Greece

3rd European meeting on “Public, Free of charge Education for all”
on Brussels May 27, 2008


We would like to thank you for participating in our meeting today. The target of this meeting is to exchange experiences and draw conclusions regarding the developments, the restructuring process in the higher education system, the improvement of our intervention, the coordination and the joint action of communist and workers parties along with other anti-imperialist movements and personalities in the European higher education system. We make efforts to keep our promise that these meetings will be held at regular basis. This will give all of us the chance to come into contact with each other more often, to exchange experiences, to be informed and coordinate our actions.

Our enemy has unified strategy and specific plans. The E.U. and the big capital share the same objectives towards the implementation of the capital restructuring. However, these plans are being realized in different way in each country; in some countries the implementation proceeds intensively while in others it has been temporarily put off.

Their plans at the level of economy aim at the further increase of the capital’s profits and the further reduction of the labour force price. The restructuring processes in the education system and particularly in the higher education system serve the same goal.

The general experience that has been exchanged in the Ministerial Meetings on education (in Bologna, Bergen, Berlin, Prague, and London) as well as the theoretical analyses carried out by the corporations and institutes of the imperialist organizations (EU, O.E.C.D., NATO, IMF), the associations of the industrialists and the big monopolies, are being generalized, modified, developed, and used for the next steps. Our parties are the forces that can and must play the leading role to this issue.

As we are approaching 2010, the EU milestone by which the capital restructuring must be completed in the field of education, the governments of the EU member-states (neo-liberal or social-democrat) intend to pass over to people’s resistance and promote the “requisite” measures. In fact, the reactionary restructuring of the public higher education began years ago, with the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 1999.

The Treaty of Bologna amplifies the guidelines of the Lisbon strategy about raising the competitiveness of the European economy towards the other imperialist blocks (namely the USA). Its declared aim is to provide cheap, flexible, semi-skilled, and life long learning labour force having no working and insurance rights.

The education-restructuring is supported by all the capitalist mechanisms. The bourgeois state along with E.U., O.E.C.D., and G.I.A. (Greek Industrialists Association) demand the immediate transformation of the Higher Education into a course of lifelong learning programmes. The reason is that these measures are strengthening the workers’ exploitation system.

The debate about the education restructuring policy reveals that the broad application of science in production nowadays, the increase of the skill of the labour force and the immediate exploitation of the science results become extremely Important in the context of the grim monopoly competition. Capitalism puts forward the ideas of the more immediate utilisation and implementation of the science achievements which appear to be positive at first sight. For that reason many scientists, columnists, politicians, association executives are charged with the duty to propagate the theories about the “society and the economy of knowledge” trying to convince the people that for capitalism the welfare criterion is no longer the profit but the knowledge. The developments in our country as well as the reciprocal relation between economy, labour, and education and particularly higher education contradict the arguments of the supporters of this theory. Capitalism is more aggressive than ever and seeks only profit.

This is clearly proved by the fact that although there is an exponential growth of labour productivity, the working time is not at all reduced but further expanded and at the same time the wages in Greece range between 400 - 600 €. That’s the reason why the capitalists are interested about the higher education and these reforms do not result//derive from the objectives of the adamant Ministers of Education but consist the strategy of the capital that serves the objectives mentioned above.

In this context the president of the G.I.A. made last year -during the big students’ demonstrations in Greece in 2006 – the following statement: “the most important contributor for the surplus value is the knowledge combined with the flexible forms of employment and the continuous lifelong learning (21-5-2006)”.

The lifelong learning system tries to eliminate the contradiction according to which capitalism on the one hand needs the development of the labour-force but one the other it sets back its progress. It also tries to substitute the need for broad education for a successive process of lifelong learning adapted to the laws of market. Once the knowledge acquired in these programmes is out of date the graduates will be dismissed in order to attend new lifelong learning programs. Besides that, the graduates will never gain any rights as they will go back to work as if they worked for first time without any established rights. (this will be repeated up to seven times according to the documents of the E.U. and as is the case in U.S.A.)


The objectives mentioned above are confirmed by the E.U. itself and promoted intensively to the Higher education system of each country. For example in Greece:
  • The new framework law for the Higher Education constitutes a complete handbook for the function of universities based on business measures. The first article of the law defines the mission of the universities as the application to the principles of the “viable development and social cohesion”. Fifteen days ago the Greek Minister of Education described the role of the universities as an imperialist, ideological mechanism “that propagates a system of principles and values that constitute the hard core of our culture”. The argument about the “hard core” outlines the reactionary, authoritarian and class oriented features of the higher education. It is revealed that the role of the higher education is the safeguard of the values of class collaboration and maintenance of the capital’s profits and power. This goal is served mainly by the “administrative and economical self-efficiency” of the universities. According to this the state is not obliged to fund equally each university. As a result the universities are forced to submit to their sponsors and follow the principles of the market economy. The slogan “universities in the employment of the business profits and their political system” describes summarily their objectives.
  • Likewise each university is now responsible to decide on its own about the number of the candidates. In Greece the number of the students entering the universities increases, of course not due to the democratic perceptions of the government. The reason is that this is the easiest way to promote the classification of the universities. Furthermore the discrimination between high-class and second rate universities already exists along with the division of higher education in universities and Technical Education Institutes (T.E.I.). Although the T.E.I. are supposed to be part of the Higher Education system they do not correspond to the Technical Colleges in other countries; they are vocational colleges having nothing to do with higher Education and science. Several faculties along with these institutes give the illusion to graduates that they offer studies of high level. The establishment of postgraduate studies in these institutes is used in order to conceal the low level of the studies as well as for the professors’ bribery.
  • Specifically, each Institution is obliged to compose a “4 year business plan”, as if it was a company. Later on, following the approval of the 4 year plan by the Ministry of Education, state funding will be distributed selectively, according to the evaluation and in favour of those that developed the most activities.

These measures are controlled through systems and bodies responsible for the evaluation in each country and institution. The experience up to now shows that through the process of evaluation, institutions are categorised, faculties are under financed and several departments are forced to change their whole curriculum. In addition, studies that are supposed to be Post Graduate are established. The reason is that the main criterion of evaluation is not the contribution of science to social progress and well-being, but the raising of the profits of monopolies and transnational corporations, whose representatives are often going to be evaluators themselves. At the same time, once in two years, the E.U. Ministerial Meeting on Education (Berlin, Bergen, Prague and London) checks the materialisation of Bologna directives. Furthermore, more concrete steps are elaborated for each country to take, in order to create the European Area of Higher Education until 2010.
  • At the same time there is an integral industry carrying out researches in favour of the capital interests. A multitude of underpaid contract researchers and unpaid post graduate students work intensively under the guidance of professors, who are linked to business and governmental interests, providing minimum cost services to business and monopoly groups. There is always a scientific group willing to substantiate the healthiness of a certain brand of cigarettes, or the safety of genetically modified food, or the benefits from the raise of retirement age and the privatisation of Healthcare system. In parallel, the external occupation of the teaching staff is not forbidden, enhancing the status of businessmen-professors, who neglect their teaching duties for the benefit of the economy and enterprises! The above mentioned professors are, indeed, prompted to establish Limited Companies in order to produce products to promote direct commercial exploitation of their scientific discoveries. A number of significant scientists who have until recently been competing to publish their research, have been compelled to patent most of their research, in order to sell it and secure profits for their institution and themselves. This is the result of the competition and not the cooperation among Universities, of the free access to science, which “the society of knowledge and information” has promised us. We can imagine where science would have been if each research group had to pay copyright fees to the descendants of Planck, Bohr, or Einstein. On the other hand, plenty of institutions in the USA and Britain send professors-researchers from their universities to spy the antagonistic to theirs institutions, so as to break into and transfer to their own university early enough not only the existing original research results, but also the methodology followed by the institution. This is done in order to earn better indicators in the system of evaluation. While the measure main applied research according the demands of transnational corporations is promoted in the universities, monopolies do not leave to chance basic research, which requires more time and money. At present the European Research Council (ERC) has already assigned to an elite of 500 European researchers from the top Universities, according to the evaluation list, to conduct research on crucial research issues. In this case the working conditions for human research potential are different. Untrammeled by suffocating schedules, which usually come along applied research in ordinary universities, the researchers of elite universities get fat fees without being pressured to achieve the maximum result in fixed deadlines.

At the same time the ideological role of the Universities is being enforced. For example, referring to the Greek universities, any consideration, theory, idea and method of scientific analysis, such as Marxism, which diverges from the status quo framework as set by the dominant ideology, is practically under persecution. Even the students, who play a leading part in the struggle against education restructuring, have difficulty in apprehending the ex cathedra teaching of unscientific theories, the distortion of history, anti-communism and to compromise. The ideological attack carried out ex cathedra is based on processed propaganda and assignments that induce the students to adopt the dominant bourgeois perception of science and society, as well as the social role and the task of scientists. Nowadays, many universities cooperate and take part in the research mechanism of big imperialist organizations and plans (ex. NATO-EU plan for the reconstitution of the Balkans, University of Macedonia), new institutes and structures of observation are being established (ex. concerning the international relations providing analysis, weekly information bulletins). Actually, this month it was revealed to the Greek people that NATO, with the approval of the Greek government and the active collaboration of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, carries out practical training projects in the headquarters of NATO in which participate students from the faculties of Law, Informatics, Journalism and the Polytechnic. In reality, it is a recruitment presented as an opportunity that “will help the students obtain a more thorough and balanced perception of NATO, that will establish a differentiated labour force making it more approachable to the state-members of the Alliance. Some university professors take on active role by writing articles in bourgeois newspapers and books in order to give “scientific validity, alibi and confirmation” to the imperialist plans, to the basic capitalist restructuring and to the governmental plans. The EU funding programs, the special accounts, pervert people’s conscience. The freedom of thought and the true scientific research are constantly reduced in the new type of university they want to impose in order to serve the exigencies of the market.

A significant part of the Scientific and Technical Staff and especially those who participate directly in the administration of the Universities and promote these restructurings, should not be considered as simple teaching staff. It must be clear that having undertaken such a role in the universities, including participation in European projects, proves their support to the restructurings promoted in the Higher Education, as well as their agreement having already effectuated them.
  • Continues the attempt to limit and eventually abolish the academic asylum. In the Universities the promoters of the restructuring try to silence any voice that calls for resistance and dispute. In order to achieve that they use provocations and pretexts such as the “drug traffic”, the “abetment of criminals” etc. The academic asylum in Greece is supposed to protect the different opinions, the right to the free movement of ideas, the free political and trade union activity. Nowadays, is made an attempt to give asylum solely to the multinational companies. The struggle, the demands and the rights cannot form part of the university they are promoting.
  • At the same time, in a large number of Universities (mostly regional) they have exceeded the wildest stretch of imagination by creating fictitious “future specializations”. This way they are trying to attract an “army” of students-costumers that will boost the “…local society and economy”. Besides, the actual situation in our country could easily be described by a slogan like: “To establish a university in each city, in each village”. They advertise deliberately that these “specialisations” will solve the problem of graduate unemployment fostering the well-known theory that “Education is to blame for the unemployment”. According to this logic, in Greece still exists a large number of Technological Educational Institutions (TEI) that pretend to offer career opportunities due to occupying with the technology, although it has been clearly proven that they are creating an army of semi-proficient graduates easily manipulated and miserably paid.
  • More and more are the class barriers set in all grades of Education. Especially in the Higher Education only 3% of the students are lodged, though in miserable residencies, while only 10% has right to eat for free in the Universities’ restaurants. In addition, the number of free books given to the students gets lower every year, while work throughout the studies is being established (today 30-40% of the students work) along with compensative allowances, instead of scholarships, that demand students to work in services of the University (ex. libraries, restaurants), and bank loans. It’ s significant that the cost of living of a person who studies away from home comes up to 600 euros a month whilst the minimum salary in our country is 660 euros a month.
  • A function of the public Universities like the above mentioned, has nothing to envy from the private Universities. The only thing left to be done is the imposition of a fee on the pre-graduate studies (since it has already been imposed on the post-graduate ones). The Article 16 of the Greek Constitution (which forbids the foundation of private Universities) is the only barrier in these plans. As it has already been described, they are aiming at a further increase of the already high cost of studies. Especially in countries like Greece which occupy leading positions concerning the figure of the state funding on the Gross National Product for the Universities (7th on state funding among the countries of the OECD) is more than certain that one of the first measures to be taken will be to impose fee on the University studies. At times, reaction breaks out against the fees, although this is only a part of the plans for the University they want to create. For example, they want to impose a specific way of function of the Universities that will serve the interests of the capital. At the same time the state will incur the “annoying” cost of the infrastructure and maintenance of the buildings. Since they won’t have to deal with all these expanses, the capitalists will focus their attention on orientating the studies and on the research. The latter is actually the reason for the intrusion of the capital in the Universities.
  • In addition to the above mentioned the latest development of great importance is the application of the EU Directive 36/05 that equalizes, and as a consequence degrades, the level studies offered by the Universities with the studies offered by private Centers of Free Studies; private campus that offer 2 year studies, with staff that does not have the necessary notional background, and function with a certain fee. This type of institutions offers fragmented and occasional knowledge.
  • In this framework is included our country’s intention to introduce the European system of credit transfer (ECTS) that will convert the diploma, the sum of knowledge with structure and cohesion, into a sum of skills and information. It can even turn the diploma into a personal study program. As a consequence, the diploma will no longer be considered as the sole precondition, as it should be, in order to practice a profession. Hence, the graduate from now on will look for a job with his CV, through linkage offices and further exams. All these will form the Diploma Supplement which is personal and includes the graduate’s qualifications so that everyone looks for a job by himself. Consequently, the common interests, students’ unions and their revendications lose their significance. From now on each person will bear full responsibility for his professional future.
  • As a consequence, the diploma is disconnected from the profession since the graduates of most Universities have to pass through further exams in order to access the public sector or to prove for once more their professional efficiency and qualifications. In this direction Chambers, accessional exams, waiting lists and other machinations are used for the categorization and classification of the students.

Despite the negative correlation of forces the situation in the Universities should not be considered non-reversible because there is possibility for further intervention, influence, cooperation with progressive educators and students for a popular education, so as to clash unscientific notions that promote a different perception of the role of science and of the scientist in general.

KKE clearly states the fact that the progress of science and its wide implementation on the production demand people today to have a much higher educational level than the past years. The people must have knowledge of the basic principles of science implemented on the production, while at the same time they must have an overall perception of the social and economic system. Hence, we consider that the studies and the diplomas should have a different character and content. For us, the real scientist is not the one who becomes competitive in order to make career according to the dictate of the capitalist model and finally get wealthy. KKE considers that the real scientist is the one who uses his knowledge and the science in order to combat diseases, to reduce the working hours, to annihilate the workplace accidents, to heal the human pain, to protect the environment and ameliorate peoples’ quality of life.

Hence, the studies must offer spherical education, deep knowledge of the scientific object, acquisition of all knowledge produced regarding this object, in order to ensure the graduate the necessary scientific efficiency and ability to exercise his profession. In order to achieve these goals, the studies must be unified and the scientific specialization should be acquired to the pre-graduate cycle and not to be transferred to the post-graduate or other cycle of studies.

All the above actually mean that the graduate will have the ability to link the phenomena related to his scientific object with the rest of the phenomena dealt by other sciences. That presupposes a solid theoretical background so that the graduate be able to assimilate the laws that rule the phenomena we are studying. It demands knowledge of how these laws are applied on life and on the production process, which presupposes laboratories and practical training. In order to have profound knowledge in a specific field of a science and be capable to carry out research, the graduate is obliged to prepare and hand in a thesis. As for the post-graduate studies they should belong in a unified cycle, during which the graduate produces new knowledge, which leads directly to the doctorate.

This procedure ensures scientific efficiency and the necessary ability to exercise a profession. This way, we prove that we consider important not just the ability to handle some standard technical knowledge, but the ability to keep up with and assimilate all current trends, the growth of production, technology and technical progress.

This procedure will be accomplished in the framework of a Unified Education (no outdated divisions between scientific and technological education) of Higher level (in the sense that modulates scientists) and, certainly, exclusively Public and Free (not transferring the cost of studies on the students and their families, so as to concentrate on their studies). To achieve that, the companies and the business activity must be “rejected” from the Universities because the above mentioned goals cannot be achieved if Education is considered to be a field of economic profit, and if knowledge is considered as merchandise.

The Universities and the entire Education need to be based on a different collective organization and a collective planning of the production and the society in order to effectuate their social task. The working class, the students, the teaching staff and the university employees, who are struggling for this perspective, through their participation in the social planning will become aware of the necessity to deal with the reconstituted education. An Education with these features will come as a result of the reorganization of the economy, the production, the work and the society in its whole.


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