Government surrenders before students, the course of reforms changes

Government surrenders before students, the course of reforms changes

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, February 25, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

Following protests and revolts of students from “St. Cyril and Methodius” university in Skopje, the government has withdrawn from the bill on high education passed a few weeks ago.

Two months ago, the government proposed a new bill on high education, which aimed new reforms, including the application of the state exam as an extra measure for all students. The Ministry of Education said that the aim of this state exam would be to increase the quality of universities.

But students, who were backed by the majority of professors, rebelled and reacted against the state exam and other reforms, which according to them, were made in order to intervene in the autonomy of universities.

A few weeks ago, the government coalition managed to pass the bill in parliament, but students protests and reactions had not stopped. The student plenum, a new student organization, which consists of students of all communities, has led the revolt during the whole time. Last week, the plenum launched an incentive for the occupation of faculties and universities and the preservation of their autonomy. This incentive was joined by all faculties in Skopje, causing a boycott of classes.

In front of this situation, the government withdrew from the law and last night, during a meeting with students of the Plenum, the dean of the University of Skopje, Velimir Stojkovski, an agreement was reached for the approval of a new law on education.

Ivana Tufekdzic from the Student Plenum declared that all their demands have been accepted and that the current bill would be withdrawn. “We can confirm that all our demands have been accepted, starting with the withdrawal of the current bill. We have agreed on the drafting of a new law within 30 days, which will include a debate with all stakeholders”, Tufekdzic says.

The rector of “St. Cyril and Methodius” university, Velimir Stojkovski demanded from students to suspend their action of blocking faculties and according to him, classes should resume as of today.

“We agreed on drafting a new bill, aiming at increasing the quality of high education and knowledge of students. We’re expecting the appointment of work groups who would compile the new bill. I also appeal to all students to return to classes”, said rector Stojkovski.

Minister of Education, Abdilaqim Ademi, declared that work groups will start the drafting of the new bill. “For the government it’s important to have constructive dialogue with all parties in order to increase quality and preserve the values of high education”, declared minister Ademi.

But, a few months ago, the government had ignored the demands of rebellious students. In spite of massive protests, the bill passed in all institutions and parliament.

Student Emra Redzepi, one of the organizers of the protest, told IBNA that he’s happy with the decision and the success achieved by students. “We managed to show resistance until the end not allowing the intervention of the government in the student autonomy. The state exam was an unnecessary measure imposed by the government. There’s no need for such exams, which are organized and controlled by the government, because universities have their autonomy. Politics should stay away from universities. Under the pressure of our arguments, the government withdrew from its plans and this is a victory of students and universities”, Emra Redzepi said.

The latest tensions in the political arena following the eavesdropping scandal, have shocked the government and led it to enter several compromises, such as the agreement with the Education Union for the suspension of the strike in elementary and middle schools. The withdrawal of the bill on high education, which was passed a few weeks ago, has put a question mark in the decisions of this majority.

The demands of the students of the University of Skopje were backed by many universities of the country and the region. /ibna/