High school students in Guangdong protest against sub-standard school meals

The wave of student protests has started again as young people in China face an uncertain future

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By chinaworker.info


At noon on 17 January, students at Dianbai First High School in the city of Maoming in Guangdong province discovered the school canteen was serving sub-standard pork. The pork smelled rotten even after being thoroughly cooked. After making inquiries at the canteen employees, they found out that recently the canteen had been providing the students with sub-standard meat quite frequently. This aroused the anger of the students, and collectively they demanded an explanation from the canteen and the school management, but there was no responses at all into the evening. The school canteen is run by the relatives of the school management, including the vice-headteacher, and normally the food is both expensive and low-quality, and the canteen badly managed.

That evening several hundred students gathered at the canteen and shouted slogans such as “give us our human rights”, “give us back our health” and “down with the corrupt bosses”; but there was no responses from either the canteen or the school management, and by late night the students gradually scattered away. On the morning of 18 January, students began to send each other text messages to organise another protest at lunchtime, and after the lessons ended at noon, more than 1,000 students occupied the canteen and surrounding areas to voice their collective protest. The students shouted slogans such as “we protest”, “give us back our health” and “punish corrupt bosses severely”, a few actually imitated the literary style of the May Fourth Movement and put forward slogans such as “without we shall fight for our rights, within we shall severely punish the corrupt businessmen”. Since more and more students gathered together, many occupied the school corridors, and began to turn over the tables and chairs in the canteen. A few students even released fireworks. This continued until around 3pm in the afternoon, when representatives of the school management came forth to initiate a dialogue with the students. They agreed to improve the quality of the school canteen and investigate the problem of “sub-standard pork”, and convinced the students to end their protest with the slogans of “one should put studying first and uphold stability”.

This year there will be more than five million high school and vocational school graduates who would be looking for employment. There are also 6.1 million university graduates in addition to the accumulated numbers of unemployed university and high school graduates of the last few years. Under the comprehensive attacks of the economic crisis, without counting the tens of millions of unemployed migrant labourers, there are around 12-15 million university and high school graduates looking for employment. After the spring festival, among the large-scale job markets the number of young people looking for work far exceeds the number of positions available. For instance, at a job market held in the national agriculture exhibition hall in Beijing, there are only 4000 places offered, but on the first day of the exhibition, there were more than 30,000 graduates from Beijing and the surrounding areas looking for jobs. Many students reduced their expectations and accepted jobs like cashiers and waiters that require a low level of skill qualification.

Due to the oppression of the capitalist economic system and bureaucratic elitism, the vast majority of young people and students are at the very bottom layers of the society that exploits and oppresses them, therefore among many youths there exist strong feelings of anxiety and resistance. In order to find a way out for themselves and for society in general, young people must unite in solidarity with the working class in general, and engage in democratic socialist struggle.

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