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The protests that have rocked Italian universities over the past week show no sign of ending. In fact, the movement against reforms proposed by the Minister of Education, Letizia Moratti, to change the Italian educational system and admissions process, blocked the beginning of the academic year at many campuses and in some case resulted in the first occupations of university buildings.
The demonstrations organized by the l’Unione degli Studenti, the Union of the Students that is connected to Democratici di Sinistra; Studenti di Sinistra, the Student Left that is associated with Rifondazione Comunista and Rete Studenti, Student Network that has a legacy with left squatter community centers, gaining the support of all the student associations as well. The main protests have been centered in Rome, but demonstrations have taken place in over 70 cities including Milan, Palermo, Trieste, Florence and Naples. The organizers estimate that as many as 250,000 students have participated in protests and other action over the last several days. On Tuesday, symbolic occupations began in the physics department in Rome and the mathematics department in Florence. Then on Wednesday, 20,000 demonstrated in Palermo in piazza Indipendenza, 20,000 in Rome in piazza della Republica and 10,000 in Milan against “the political privatization of schools and of knowledge”.
Teachers have also also played a prominent role in the revolt against the government reforms. Nunzio Miraglia, the national coordinator of the Association of University Teachers, exclaimed: “the protests of this week are the best answer to a minister who says she has the good of the university in mind The university is under attack, finally students discuss with us and they expect more from an institution and that it be democratic.”
The government reforms will create eight liceo or secondary schools: classic, scientific, language, artistic, human sciences, technical, musical and economic. The professional institutes would then be entrusted to the regions with four obligatory years and a fifth optional one. The opposition to the reforms is rooted in the fact that they will clearly divide whose who will attend liceo, the stepping stone for entrance into the university system and whose who will go to professional institutes. The continued mobilizations of students across Italy are to make sure that that this does not become a reality.
The demonstrators have opened a debate beyond the proposed reforms that has begun to start a discussion about the function of the public university and its future in Italy. In opposition to Moratti’s proposed reforms, they are demanding: 1. The implementation of obligatory scholarships until age 18. 2. Institution of a national law stating the right to study and to total access to knowledge. 3. Reform of the national and peripheral collegiate organs in order to guarantee greater democracy and participation of the students in the instruction.
However, in spite of mobilizations across the country, the demonstrators still face an uphill battle. Even in the face of national pressure expressed repeatedly by students and teachers, Moratti continues to seem intent on going ahead with the government reforms.
KATRINA YEAW is a member of Students Against War, a chapter of the Campus Antiwar Network, at San Francisco State University. She is currently studying in Florence and can be reached at Katrina.firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005