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Demonstration against cuts to education

Demonstration — Thousands of students turned out yesterday across Denmark, to protest the education cuts proposed by the VLAK-government.

The Education Alliance (Uddannelsesalliancen) rallied some 10,000 students across Denmark yesterday, in protest at the government’s proposed budget cuts across the wide range of education.

Around 6,500 turned out in central Copenhagen, and the rest in other cities in Denmark (Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense, and Rønne).

They are trying to cut 14.7 billion kroner from education in Denmark, and we think that is a fatal mistake – because education is the only thing that our society has.
Jens Philip Yazdani, president of the Union of Upper Secondary School Students (Danske Gymnasieelevers Sammenslutning)

Many institutions, departments, and organisations were represented here. Signs included messages like “Future over progress” and “RIP to the good teaching” – highlighting concerns of how the cuts will affect students and the wider society.

Students chanted “Knowledge is our resource, don’t waste it!” and took aim at the Minister of Finance – “14.7, Kristian Jensen, you’re a thief!”

Other banners included “Shame on you!” “Stop slaughtering the education!” and “We’re already fucking a lot… Don’t fuck with our future!”


“It’s a great loss of mind capacity”

In one demonstration, vocational students constructed a model house on Nytorv (representing the Danish society) and cut into it (as the government) until it collapsed – making the point that education is the foundation on which society is built.

If we continue these attacks on education systems, it is going to hinder not just the personal development of the students, but the development of the Danish society as a whole.

Laurits Lindegaard Rasmussen, the Union of Upper Secondary School Students

Jette Jørgensen, a carpenter’s apprentice and union member, pointed out the hypocrisy of the government talking about the need for people who know how to use their hands, and yet pushing ahead with budget cuts regardless. Jette talked of being short on supplies and staff – “Our teachers are really stressed out, they don’t have the time for illness. They don’t have any substitute teachers. It’s not sustainable at all.” Some of her teachers haven’t even had the proper education to sufficiently use the software required for her course… And yet, this is still a department exempt from the current round of cuts (“for now”). “At the same time, the nurses are getting cut, and all the other educations. It’s a great loss of mind capacity”, Jette tells me. “It’s really short-sighted.”

Malou Astrup, KU student and compère for the demonstration, introduced the presidents from both university and upper secondary school student unions, as well as spokespersons for the trade unions. When I ask her about what these budget cuts mean for KU students, she talks about the 500 teachers, scientists, and researchers who’ve been ‘let go’ in the last couple of years, the difficulty in getting feedback on your work, and much larger class sizes:

“We don’t think that we can take any more.”

Philip Yazdani - president of the Union of Upper Secondary School Students.
Jette Jørgensen - carpenter's apprentice and union member.
Malou Astrup - student at the University of Copenhagen and compère.