Marking 60 years since Portugal’s “student crisis” – with still so much to fix
Hundreds of university students from all over the country will be converging on the capital today for a protest to commemorate “National Student Day” and the 60 year anniversary since Portugal’s ‘student crisis’.
In those days the chants and anger were directed ‘against the dictatorship’; today they will be for ‘better conditions’: whether in the universities themselves, in schools, or in terms of student accommodation.
A major aim is to see universal access to a university education – progressively cheaper to the point of becoming free.
Countries like Finland and Scotland, for example, do not charge students for higher education – while standards of living/ salaries etc are far higher in both.
Portugal has always been stuck by the dilemma that bright pupils cannot always get the education they deserve; families simply cannot afford the financial sacrifices.
Thus today’s initiative – starting in downtown Rossio around 2.30pm and involving various academic associations and bodies.
The plan is to take the protests in two directions: one a mass demo in Terreiro do Paço, another a ‘late night vigil’ outside parliament – this one more focused on support for the victims of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
Elsewhere, polytechnics and secondary schools around the country are planning ‘actions’ to highlight the need for ‘better conditions’ and, according to Correio da Manhã, “more psychologists” (to support students and pupils, many of whom have been affected by the constraints of the pandemic).
All this as the minister of education of the last six years has finally left the scene, under his own volition, citing exhaustion.
The incoming minister is João Costa, a man who has actually been shadowing his predecessor for the last six years as secretary of state. He knows exactly what the issues in education are, say reports, and the sector’s directors (in schools and universities) are described as “satisfied” with his nomination.