Students hold wake for education

May 14, 2013
The Student Action Collective, Geelong, May 10. Photo: Sarah Hathway

A meeting was held in Geelong on April 30 for students to discuss and plan action against the continued cuts to public sector education.

University, TAFE and High School students were invited. At this meeting, the Student Action Collective (SAC) was formed and a list of immediate demands, mid-term and long-term goals were developed.

These include the immediate reversal of all recent cuts to public sector education, increased funding to public sector education, opposition to NAPLAN and other forms of standardised testing, an increase in student support services and no chaplains in public sector schools.

Based on these demands, those involved held a student speakout for May 10, to help build the national student strike on May 14. The speakout took the form of a funeral for public education and was held in the central mall area in Geelong, attracting the attention of passers-by, many who were students.

The action started with a small graveyard set up in the mall, surrounding a coffin with “RIP Education” and red flowers littering the grave site. The headstones read “RIP student services”, “RIP teachers’ jobs”, “RIP student voice”, “RIP arts degree”.

The coffin was followed by a member of SAC dressed as a politician, carrying a scythe with “ALP” on one side and “LNP” on the other.

Speakers included Sarah Hathway a student from the Gordon TAFE, Finn Paterson a student from Oberon High School, Tim Gooden from the Geelong Trades Hall, and Sue Bull, the Socialist Alliance federal candidate for the Corio federal electorate. All speeches were given in the form of a eulogy for public education.

The organisers were harassed by the Geelong City Council for “not having a permit”. However, as more people started to show up and the organisers continued to argue, council workers retreated.

About 25 people, mostly students, took part in the action. However, there were plenty of others listening in while walking through the central area in the city.

This is just the start for the SAC in Geelong. Another meeting was held on May 13 to discuss plans for the May 14 student strike.

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