I know for a fact that STU students have been organising for this sort of protest well before the “virus spread in the Middle East” (as John McCain said on TV about the democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt), but no doubt that seeing that regular folks can overthrow military dictatorships by taking to the streets and occupying public places has further fired up their energy.
So, they made a public scene of their demands for lower tuition fees and for support to public education today. Their stand is not limited to the protection of college education, but to public education in general. There have been concerted efforts to undermine the ability to deliver and acquire quality education, perhaps not just in New Brunswick, but certainly in New Brunswick. Elementary and secondary schools have been told to choose themselves which limb of their budget they’ll agree to chop off, lest they don’t bleed themselves to death.
Public support for universities is also under threat, and post-secondary institutions must rely increasingly on private funding, including higher tuition fees. Considering universities increasingly teach basic skills which high schools used to, but no longer have the resources to teach (perhaps due to recurring budget cuts), one could say that the concept of public education for the “general good” is a threatened species.
Minister of Post-Secondary Education Martine Coulombe made a courageous appearance at the rally outside the Legislature. How to describe it?… Hm… Underwhelming perhaps? It failed to reassure us that our education system was in good hands.
Luc Walhain teaches history at St. Thomas University. This piece was originally published on his blog, tidbits from an academic.