Morpeth student describes how education marchers called for solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian protests
Young school pupils and university students joined Tower Hamlets union groups in marching into central London on Saturday to protest Government education cuts.
Around 3000 people took part in the march to Westminster to voice their anger at the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and rises to tuition fees.
The EMA can provide students from low-income families with up to �30 per week and tuition fees can now go up to �9000 per year following last December’s House of Commons vote.
There was no repeat of the ugly scenes which marked last December’s student protests, with nine arrests made in total.
One Morpeth School pupil, Rebecca Short, 15, wrote a first-hand account of her experience for the East London Advertiser and told the paper how young protestors marched to the Egyptian Embassy and called on the spirit of the recent Tunisian uprising in their chants.
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“Education cuts will be felt particularly hard in my borough, Tower Hamlets, where 77 per cent of students receive EMA, 47.5 per cent of primary school pupils receive free school meals, and 23 per cent of families live on less than �15,000 a year.
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“With rises to tuition fees as well, people at my school, Morpeth, are rethinking their plans to go on to college and university.
On November 24 last year, as part of a national day of action, around 40 pupils at Morpeth attempted to walkout and join the protest. We didn’t get out, but for the next hour and a half there were pupils attempting to stage sit ins and running around the corridors chanting ‘give us EMA’.
“Since then there hasn’t been the same spontaneous militancy but there have been a couple of small walkouts and we have formed a group to fight the cuts. We organize for upcoming demonstrations: discussions, leafleting, making placards, talking to pupils and teachers.
“Last Wednesday we had another walkout of 20 pupils to join the EMA day of action. We went down to Trafalgar Square and then moved on to the BBC World Service picket line. Although the protests were quiet, on Saturday it was a different story. Ten of us met outside Morpeth with a banner and placards along with parents and local anti-cuts campaigners and we were joined by Queen Mary University students and went to central London.
“We met up with the thousands of students and workers on the demonstration and marched passed Parliament and Millbank and then to the Egyptian Embassy chanting “they say cut back, we say fight back” and “wipe off David Cameron’s smile, let’s do this Tunisian style”.
“Now we need to go on to build a massive demonstration on March 26 to shake the Con-Dem government that’s being run by the millionaires not the millions.