Report of the March for Free Education (15/11/2017)

A 14-year-old Labour Party and education activist called Hasan Patel wrote a report of the national demo for free and better education on November 15, 2017, and shares his own views on how to continue this struggle.

Please share this all over social media, and use it for the struggle for free and democratic education.

Free Education Now! Tax the Rich!

My name is Hasan Patel, I’m 14 years old and I’m from the East End of London. On the 15th of November, 2017, I marched with thousands of other students from across the country on the national demo for free education which was organised by the stellar organisation, the NCAFC (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts). The NCAFC is a voluntary organisation led by student and education worker activists from around the U.K.

The three main demands presented at the demo were: “Scrap all fees”, “Living grants for all” and “Stop the campus cuts”. Even though the demographic of the demo mostly consisted of university students, there were several schoolchildren, including me. Like many others nationally, my school has to deal with severe budget cuts everyday. My own teachers have to spend their own money on basic equipment as they are being squeezed by tight budgets. My Arts department is losing out because smaller budgets mean that they have to focus on academic subjects such as English and Mathematics. Class sizes are increasing.

This simply can’t go on. That’s why I mobilised for and marched on this demonstration. I know that this does not have to happen. I know that it is the same government attacking higher education that is cutting my school’s funding. It is in my interest to fight for the education that I deserve.

The march was very lively and full of young and vibrant energy. It was an awe-inspiring and motivating experience. Some of the chants included: “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!” and “Education should be free, not just for the bourgeoisie!” We also passed Picturehouse Central cinema in the heart of the West End where workers are striking for a living wage and against zero-hour contracts. Things started to kick off here with chants, such as “What’s disgusting? Union busting! What’s outrageous? Poverty wages!” Solidarity!

Once we reached Parliament Square, we assembled for the closing rally. I was given the chance to speak and I spoke about the school cuts I’m facing as well as about the vision for a National Education Service that a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would deliver. It was my favourite moment of the day by far and my speech has amassed 30K views online! Here’s the link if you want to see it:

We must continue fighting for a free and properly funded education system, so why not join the NCAFC at its Winter Conference in Liverpool on the 9th and 10th of December this year where we will discuss our next steps and where you can meet like-minded people.

Thank you, Hasan Patel

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