An overview of this spring’s protests and a short update on the current situation

In Croatia, the spring of 2009 was a spring of a great student revolt. It all started on April 20 at the beginning of the international “Reclaim your education – Global week of action 2009″ when the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb was occupied. It remained occupied for another 35 days. During the height of the protest, around 20 faculties and universities in 8 Croatian cities (Zagreb, Zadar, Rijeka, Osijek, Split, Pula, Varaždin, Slavonski Brod) were occupied – all under a common international slogan “One world – one struggle. Education is not for sale”.

The demand was simple: free education available to all on all levels (including postgraduate studies) immediately. The students got a lot of support from all strata of Croatian society and became a respectable political force fighting not only against the commercialization of education but also for the protection of social rights in general. There have been some attempts to engage in a wider front with workers and peasants but this still remains an important task for the future.

During the protests general assemblies called plenums emerged on the faculties. All decisions during the faculty occupations were made by the method of direct democracy. This proved to be one of the sources of students’ great political strength and it has also been one of the maintained legacies of the spring revolt. Regular plenums are still being held in different universities and they maintain to be political organs of students fighting for free education.

Currently, the government is preparing a new law on higher education for which it is clear in advance that it will not be what the students want (in a pre-revolt poll 76% of Croatian students expressed the opinion that the education should be completely publicly financed). That is why the students are already preparing for the inevitable upcoming battles. In Zagreb, during the weekend of October 23-25 a mega-meeting of the Croatian student activists will be held. There, the students from all over the country will discuss the problems of the commercialization of education and possible actions for the future (ie. possible occupations of the faculties this autumn).

It is difficult to say what lays ahead but one thing is certain. The fight has only begun.

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