By Aleksandar Comovski
“We are students-not customers”. A masterful message by the new and mature generation that began its marches for academic and human freedom. Their NO broke Government’s aggressiveness, more strongly and authentically than the far more numerous party rallies and counter-rallies. Students showed their attitude, confidence, dignity and honesty. We heard all Macedonian Cockney and slangs – from Skopje, Kavadarci, Ohrid, Tetovo dialect… Among them, in the forefront, She, a student with a burqa, as 6-7 years ago young Muslim girls managed to be able to attend lectures wearing it.
Prime Minister Gruevski’s explanations seemed confusing, which means additional external-state exam? Although gulping back, with a sincere and heavy sigh he asked for a broader social debate beyond party circles, at least for the model to assess students’ knowledge. Dialogue and debate?! Even if it is semantics, in this society where the government is deaf to hear about otherness, the very uttering of these notions of democracy is a major point of the column of enthusiastic students. Due to the dynamics of normal changes Gruevski will have to let them run the country. After the chief, Minister Ademi also encouraged. Suddenly he became open to deal with his “clients”. At first he refused to see the delegation of dissatisfied students, then he did not know the address to respond to the letter, so in VMRO propaganda style he suspected that behind them stood other intentions and political provocations. Once their fear weakened, party headquarters returned to the rhetoric of “Soros” or “SDSM” stimulation of the march of truth.
Four pro-government media did not register the perfectly organized procession. But irritated the audience with totals and attributed, for example, the protests against “Monster” or “Wahhabists” in front of the Government?! I would recommend to my colleagues from MTV, Sitel, colleagues from Alpha TV and Kanal 5, primarily the A1 school generation, to watch the archives of students’ protests by Petrovski, Milososki Pandev, Todorov Gjorchev and…their protest campus against education in Albanian language. This then compact and educational VMRO generation is now in firm alliance with Albanians and are partners in managing the current anti-student reactions. The attempts to label current students protests as party ones rely on the survey by a University site – of total of 3,700 which replied in just two days, more than 93 per cent were against the introduction of state exam. The entire system of external tests is questionable, including the primary and secondary education, after devaluing teaching profession and their recruitment against the pedagogical rules and measuring system, as opposed to party references.
In front of the government’s eyes their model of rural dispersion and provincialization of higher education is sinking, which devalues the meaning of education and recruitment for labor market, scientific researches, impact – published articles. In the flurry of abuse of functions was the hysteria of the main collaborators to the Prime Minister, who last year, days before the deadline, massively submitted doctoral thesis before the start of the new model three-year doctoral studies. Uncritical accreditation of about 20 private universities, some with barely 5-6 professors, devalues studying, the acquisition of sub-specialist knowledge and titles. What is the point of checking if you allow state exam for students with the same professors, no matter how fair the tests are? Once a state exam, is not it a university, too? What is the logic of additional external testing for doctors who after gaining a diploma, pass a state exam, after completing their medicine studies (which is a German model, but by size it is at Master’s level)? What with the IT students who have not passed the formal tests, but during the studies have registered their application and creative potentials with programs that have already been built and used? What D major Sonata will music scholars play or maybe they will be asked if they know Todor Aleksandrov or the last President of Macedonia?
How to check students’ knowledge if the evaluation of Macedonian universities is under the standards of the Shanghai ranking, where two years in a row, none of the five state campuses is not even among the world’s two thousand?
Students’ march made the Government feel nervous. It is the first serious counter-reply of a new generation upon which the government is trying to test the resilience of its policy of exclusion and imposed decisions. In the recent months businessmen have also raised their head against the opaque decisions to employ disabled people, double standards in taxing freelancers and exemption of advisers, government consultants, MPs, civil servants…excessive burdening of domestic companies and taxpayers who fill the budget hole from the privileged statuses of companies in free zones thus performing overflow of the domestic social product. The shock with Subrata Roy and his attempt to make a big money laundry of Macedonia has frozen, pardon, prolonged constitutional amendments that are to institutionalize free financial zones, as an ex-territory, which would otherwise be decided by referendum.
Despite the enormous media self-promotion Gruevski’s government began to pay the tax on their own aggression on the freedom of opinion, attitude, with non-transparency and through complete denial of diversities, friendly criticism, civic and social reactions.The electorate is narrowing.
*Author is regular analyst and columnist in Online Magazine Inbox7 , Skopje
** The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line