Category Archives: education

Young people demand – FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL

Belfast SY Public Meeting on why you should fight for socialism

Thousands of secondary school students awaited A-level and GCSE results anxiously last month. Again it was another record-breaking year for Northern Ireland students who again improved on the previous years results. But even pupils who have achieved top grades will be forced to compete for the miniscule amount of university places on offer. This, and the fact that the education budget faces cuts of 25% this year, leaves tens of thousands of young people in the North without any access to education or a decent job.

By Patrick McGeown, Socialist Youth Lurgan

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Come to the Socialist Youth Summer Festival

SY Summer Festival Brochure

SY Summer Festival Brochure

Friday 22nd August – Sunday 24th August

Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow

All Welcome

Cost: €65/£50 (Cost includes accomodation, food and travel)

To download the brochure please click here.

If you would like to book your place please send your name, address, phone, e-mail and any special food requirements you may need to:

Socialist Youth Dublin
P.O. Box 3434, Dublin 8

Socialist Youth Belfast
13 Lombard St

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The Real Miss UCD!

Elisa O’Donovan, Dublin Socialist Youth

UCD Socialist Youth last week set up the Students Against Sexism campaign to protest against the Miss UCD beauty pageant sponsored by UCD Students Union. This beauty pageant is part of the Miss University competition and apart from being sexist, it bans mothers, wives and women under 5ft4 from entering!

The protest held was enormously successful with over 70 students and staff showing their support, along with messages of solidarity from other universities where the pageant had taken place.

The protest began with a speaker from the UCD equality department, highlighting the huge effects beauty pageants have on young women with regards to body image. Second speaker, Ailbhe Smyth, spoke of how acceptable sexism has become in society and how Miss World encourages this as it allows women to be viewed as just objects. The Socialist Youth representative spoke of how the union’s role was to fight for women’s rights on campus, particularly highlighting the lack of decent child care facilities and health facilities on campus. Each speaker was met with a rousing response from the large crowd of students.

Following the speakers there was the Real Miss UCD pageant. All contestants were immediately disqualified as one was too short, the other had two children and the other was too masculine! Eventually a sheep was crowned the real Miss UCD to signify the union following the flock and not standing up for women rights on campus. “There was a great feel about UCD today, students were standing up against discrimination. It was empowering and shows how successful direct action can be” said Sophie Grenham after the demo.

UCD Socialist Youth will now continue its campaign against sexism in UCD and continue the fight to ensure equality for all on campus.

North: Scrap fees – Free education for all

Conor Barr, Belfast SY

Student fees in the North are set to rise from £3,000 to £3,145 in the new university semester. But some university bosses are still not happy with that, threatening they want to raise fees to as much as £10,000 a year.

Before the Assembly was established the main sectarian parties said they opposed tuition fees. But they have suddenly dropped their opposition to fees since they got their hands on power.

Education is a right not a privilege. Economic background should not be a factor in deciding who should be “entitled” to education. Tuition fees are clearly an attack against working class young people. Most working people now cannot afford to finance their sons and daughters through university. This increase in fees will further cut off working class youth from being able to continue their studies. Recent figures show that the amount of people applying to study at universities in Northern Ireland is falling.

Socialist Youth fights for the scrapping of student fees, free education for all and a living grant for all students. Capitalism can’t deliver education for all, it is only interested in making profit. That is why the fight for free education also needs to be a fight for a socialist future.

Manchester Students occupy university building

Over 300 students from the University of Manchester yesterday organised an occupation of the Arthur Lewis Building on their campus after being confronted by police. The Arthur Lewis Building costing millions of pounds was an example of the university’s commitment to big business over the needs and interests of students.

Police attempted to stop students protesting before the occupation but instead were forced to seal off the area using a special riot unit. The occupation ended yesterday at 6pm after police allowed students to leave. However students held a 3 1/2 hour meeting to discuss their demands against fees and for quality education.

Students in University of Manchester had complained of libraries not having up to date textbooks and a lack of student facilities, issues that students in Northern Ireland know all too well.

Socialist Students (the sister organisation of the Socialist Society in England and Wales) were involved in the protest and were arguing for the complete abolition of all fees and the implementation of a living grant for all students. Tomorrow (Thurs 24th April) Socialist Students are organising a meeting on the future of education to co-incide with the Teacher’s and Lecturer’s strike.

This protest shows how a fighting leadership of Student Union’s can give an important fight back against the effects of fees. A united campaign involving fighting student’s across England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as education workers could force the government to scrap fees.

For footage of the occupation you can visit:×3.html?bcpid=1213934526&bctid=1517402038

The demands of the student occupation:

  1. The President / VC will write a monthly column about the goings for the UMSU newspaper Student Direct, that will also be published on the UMSU website.
  2. The President / VC will also be interviewed by Student Direct, using questions sent in by students, once a semester.
  3. The current public Q&A session that the President / VC takes part in once a semester will be publicised to staff and students by the University. All staff are welcome to attend.
  4. Students and Staff must have representation on all steering panels, including Building Design. Staff and Student must have input into the selection of the new President / VC.
  5. All first-year Course Welcoming lectures must include a talk on avenues of student participation in University decision-making processes and explain what the “2015 Vision” and “Capital Plan” will mean practically-i.e. building plans; department moving plans; axing of course module options.
  6. A minimum cap of 12 hours per week must be introduced for face-to-face contact hours. Courses with more contact time must not use this as a reason to cut hours.
  7. Online and Distance Learning are only to supplement this cap-they are not a substitute for contact time. Core modules must have non-online learning alternative options so as to be accessible to all students.
  8. The Personal Tutor system should ensure that all students have a one-to-one contact at University. Students must have good access to health and disability support staff.
  9. The university ends staff cut-backs now. No dependence on Temporarily Contracted Staff.
  10. Stop investment in and from unethical industries, including the arms trade. Investments must be made transparent and open to Staff/Student discussion. The Freedom of Information Act must be respected.
  11. The resources of recently closed libraries must be re-instated. In future, new library buildings should be built before the old ones are closed.
  12. Increase in use of University-based talent, such as in-sourcing from the Architecture Department. This increases Student participation in University decision making.
  13. The University will join students and staff in our fight for a free education. The President / VC will be open in their support for a free education.

For more informartion visit

School water charges: Don’t pay the flat rate charge!

By Kate Relihan, INTO Dublin North West, (personal capacity)

The government has backed down from imposing compulsory metered water bills on schools after anger and opposition from the teachers unions and parents to bills, some of which were as high as €10,000.

However, the government is determined to impose water charges on all schools and is implementing an incremental flat rate fee per pupil from 2007 until the full charges are imposed in 2010.

The fees for 2007 are €3 per pupil, €3.50 for 2008 and €4 in 2009. Minister for Education Mary Hanafin had promised a doubling of the schools’ capitation grant at last years INTO conference. Instead the government increased the grant by a miserly 20% – but even this small increase will be wiped out by the water charges.

This is an outrage as most primary and secondary schools are already crippled by decades of neglect and under-funding. Primary schools only receive €6,000 a year for running costs, and are wholly dependent on parents’ contributions to make up the shortfall, which for some schools runs into thousands. Parents are already forced to contribute to a litany of fundraising events to fill the gap between paltry state funding and real expenditure. This will inevitably have a huge impact on pupils, who will now have even less funding for crucial educational resources.

This inordinate stealth tax, which parents shall inevitably have to pay, is an absolute disgrace and the government‘s attempts to use the EU Water Framework Directive as an excuse for imposing water charges on schools is even more nauseating. The government also claims that it is the best way to improve water conservation in schools. What utter nonsense. The best way to improve water conservation in schools is by educating our children, not by financially penalising their parents!

Implementation of these charges should be met with outright opposition. An organised, nationwide campaign of teachers, parents and pupils against the water charges can defeat them. Schools should refuse to pay the charges, including the flat rate charge. This is the best way to force the government to scrap them.

If Fianna Fail and their Green partners get their way we will all be paying water charges and as Mary Hanafin said herself – “If we had water rates in Ireland families would be paying €700 to €800 per annum”.

SuperValu ‘Kids in Action’ rip off

By Garrett Mullan

SuperValu have been criticised by teachers and principals for operating a scheme that cynically exploits the lack of sports equipment in primary schools.  

Supported by the Irish Sports Council with the endorsement of the Department of Education, Supervalu is one of a number of companies operating schemes that purport to assist schools. In their publicity blurb, Supervalu claim the scheme is school-centred and worth €2million over two years.

What it is in reality is a company loyalty scheme and it is worth a lot more to SuperValu than it is to schools. This scheme is founded on the principle that the more you spend the more resources for your child’s education!

Schools are once more invited to promote a supermarket brand to students, their parents, relatives and neighbours in order to implement the P.E. curriculum which the government no longer provide equipment grants for. A brief example of the parental spend required at SuperValu illustrates plainly what is expected of schools and how “free” this equipment it.

Gaelic Football = €3,950 worth of shopping / Online retail price €18
Rugby Ball = €2,690 worth of shopping / Online retail price €13
Tennis Racket = €3,090 worth of shopping / Online retail price €25

Tesco have also been running a “Computers for Schools” programme, exploiting the underfunding of schools IT resources.

The scheme offers a “FREE” Apple 17inch iMac (Retail price = €1,400) to schools who spend €261,600 at Tesco! The Campaign points out that the actual contribution to schools from each €10 spent by parents at Tesco is approximately 0.04 cent – 4/100th of a cent!