The UCU is on strike this term, against stagnant, insufficient, and unequal pay for women and racial minorities, increasing casualisation, unsustainable workloads, and the unfavourable restructuring of pensions. The strike causes some disruption to lectures and seminars. But does it also, in many ways, contribute to our education, and to redressing inequality in society as a whole?
Countries in the global south, across Africa, Asia and South America, have long histories of student and teacher strikes. In India and Pakistan, students and teachers went on strike against British imperialism during their independence movements. In South Africa, students went on strike against the apartheid regime. In different forms, and in the struggle for different freedoms, students and teachers continue to use the right to strike as a site for civic participation and in seeking institutional transformation.
Recently, students in the global south have gone on strike for ensuring access to education, and for de-colonising education, such as the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall movements in South Africa. The Pinjra Tod (Break the Cage) movement in India fought patriarchy in higher education and beyond. The Students Solidarity March in Pakistan protested for democratic rights for students, including the right to form student unions, improvements to the education budget and against sexual harassment in universities. Students also continue to go on strike in solidarity with other movements – for instance, recent strikes in Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, JNU and Delhi University against the CAA-NRC-NPR, and violence against Muslims in Delhi.
In this sit-in-teach-out in support of the UCU strike, we will explore issues around strikes in higher education – what does it means for students and teachers to go on strike? Why do we go on strike? How do strikes impact our education? It is meant to be an open and reflective space, to hold conversations around these questions by drawing on our experiences of striking in the global south. Do come along!
The event will be held in the Wadham Room, Kings Arms, from 1-3 pm on Wednesday (4 March).