Marking a new stage in the protests against the Law on Higher Education, Macedonian students have occupied faculties in Skopje, proclaiming them an 'autonomous territory'.
This kind of protests is first in the history of the country where students and other young people are actively engaging to protect the autonomy of the universities and to stand up for their rights.Over a thousand students on Wednesday occupied the Skopje university faculties of Philosophy, Philology, Law, Economy and the technical faculties proclaiming them an "autonomous students’ territory".
Students demanded the immediate suspension of a new Law on Higher Education, which has introduced mandatory externally supervised exams. In the meantime they also demanded substantial talks with the government in preparing any new legislation, saying that they have been ignored and manipulated enough. Last December, over 12,000 students opposed to the plan attended a mass protest in Skopje. They were joined by professors who later set up their own informal movement, the Professors Plenum.
Over this process this was the first time that the young people are openly demanding to be considered as partners in development of youth policies. And they succeeded. They managed that the government accepts to develop the new law together with the students and professors, which is the first case like this in FYROM/Macedonia and as well on the Balkan region.
Altough the first battle was won; there is still a huge promotion for active participation of youth in the society and in the decision-making processes. Politics as such, no matter is it local, national or European should be open for influence from many different stakeholders, and especially young people should be actively involved in shaping the system according to their needs.
In this case was done by protests and claiming autonomous zones, but this is the last resort, and there are many different tools for doing this (structured dialogue, open letters, debates, co-management bodies etc).
For the end, this battle was a heritage for the future generations. This battle should be remembered as a good practice, and the fight for youth rights should continue in every level and way.
For everything that is rotten there should be the citizens to change it.
No front is closed, so youth activate yourself!!!
YEU Vice President