A Week for Protest
This week has been very upsetting and disturbing all around. The horrific attack on the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, has left us all upset and afraid. As all our thoughts go out to the victims and families, mosques all around the world, including here in The Netherlands, are looking into increasing security or have already done so. At the same time Britain is continuing to run towards the edge of a cliff, and looking at the European Union to keep it from falling, or to at least delay the inevitable fall.
On the other side of the ocean, Trump is continuing his ridiculous narrative of illegal immigration from Mexico into the US as a national emergency, and takes it a step further by overriding Congress using his right to veto for the first time in his presidency. On the topic of Presidents abusing their executive power, President Bouteflika of Algeria has delayed the elections for an indeterminate amount of time after announcing he would not run. This news did not sit well with Algerians, and the Algerian government was met with massive protests from the people.
Closer to home there were also large protests. This Friday saw the Climate March organised by “Students4Climate Maastricht” that had an attendance of about 3000 people. On that same day, however, there was another protest in The Netherlands that could also have a large impact for any students in The Netherlands.
The entire Dutch education section went on strike this friday, and all students were invited to join by representatives at Maastricht university: WOinActie Maastricht. The reasons behind this large national strike are manifold: high work pressure, temporary contracts for teachers causing for a lack of stability for many, underpaid overtime by teachers, and a lack of opportunities for new graduates. The number of students is increasing, while the funding for universities and students is decreasing at the same time. There is a rising concern that these factors will have a negative effect on the teaching quality, which we all would like to avoid.
The Observant published an open letter from WOinActie Maastricht, addressing all staff and students that you should definitely check out.
WOinActie is an organisation in The Netherlands that has been lobbying for improvements in the Dutch education system for a while now. At the beginning of this academic year some students and staff at Dutch universities held a silent protest, calling attention to the issues. They pinned a red fabric square on to symbolise that they have had enough.
The turn out for the strike was impressive, and something the education sector can definitely be proud of. Around 40 000 people turned up according to the organisation. WOinActie can already boast some achievements of their efforts so far. Most importantly, awareness has been raised, evidenced by Friday’s massive turnout. Sadly though, the strike has not received much media coverage this week.
The news of this massive strike, was overshadowed by everything that is going on in international news this week. The tragedy in New Zealand and Trump’s decision to veto Congress has been the main focus in Dutch news this week, and rightfully so. However, the strike by WOinActie also deserves our attention. The things this organisation is fighting for are relevant to anyone following an education in The Netherlands, especially to those hoping to go into teaching at a Dutch university. As university students, the quality of education we are offered surely matters to us. We have amazing teachers, who deserve better than this. So keep your eyes peeled for any further actions by WOinActie, because their cause is ours as well.
Nadine studies Arts & Culture at Fasos and writes for the MD.