Today once again students of the Sts. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje, Republic of Macedonia are protesting demanding (among other things) free/state subsidized higher education, as well as a new way for student organizing consisting of a student parliament based on direct democracy.
We feel that the present structure of the student union (which was recently only renamed to “student parliament” but the people there are the same) works only for the selfish needs of the few people that are in that institution, does not protect and promote the students’ rights and does not care about students’ needs and problems. On the last elections for student leader, the new leader was elected and according to their statute – he is legitimate, with only 26% (~7800) of all students voted, out of which supposedly around 6000 students voted for him. And the total number of students is 30 000! And they call that legitimate. And the university and the state recognizes him.
Therefore a year ago, as some of you probably know, a group of conscious students arose and formed the independent student movement “Sloboden Indeks” (which is a non-hierarchical movement with no leader or executive board) whose goals are not to replace the student union, but to change the way the present system works by making education available for all classes of citizens regardless of social status, as well as by introducing a new way of student organizing – direct democracy where there are no elections, no student representatives, but where every student is a representative of himself or herself. This way we feel that students will have greater input in solving their problems at their faculties, plus the chance for manipulation by a political party (which is defacto the case with the student union – government controlled) will be minimal if not extinct.
On the question of the Bologna process which was introduced some 6-7 years ago, opinions are divided amongst the activists and students. It did introduce the tuition, yes (before, there were only very small administrative fees) but at *some* faculties the new teaching program contributed to a better quality of education in comparison to the previous system, according to students of those particular faculties. In other faculties on the other hand the problem is that the Bologna process is not fully implemented or respected by the administration and/or professors. So the situation is complicated. While at its core, most of us activists agree with the general statements against it, we decided not to articulate it and be against/for it as is, but instead we will focus on the concrete problems every faculty or student at a particular faculty has.
And in the end I would like to apologize for the lack of communication from our side during this period since the international student day last year. Reason is that the number of committed activists dropped unfortunately and it’s very hard especially in a largely apathetic society like Macedonia and in a grassroots movement like Sloboden Indeks to stimulate people to take responsibility by themselves and contribute to the movement without having any personal gain..
Anyway, we are not giving up and we are continuing our global struggle one way or another.
~ One world, one struggle ~
Independent student movement – Sloboden Indeks
Republic of Macedonia
www.slobodenindeks.tk (english version not available yet)