Thousands of students protest against government imposed state exam

Thousands of students in Skopje today, for the third time protested against the government proposed measure – “state exam”. Students gathered in front of the Government holding the Constitution stating it is time for the state officials to finally read it.

According to student Maria Grubor the highest national legal act is treated as garbage, so she called for students to throw a copy of the Constitution as a New Year’s gift to the Government.

“I reject your reforms and will tell you exactly what is wrong with your corrupt institutions. Like dictators they take from us the autonomy of the university and like beasts they destroy our critical thought, as shameless manipulators they circle our heads with red circles. They try to involve us in their nasty political intrigues and then as shameless culprits caught in their own trap, they close the door in front of our noses when we call for conversation and confrontation. Because they don’t know how to face independent students who think with their heads, have strong arguments, students that are brave and aware.” said Grubor.

Студентите и го фрлија Уставот на Владата за да го прочита

Students announced that on Monday they will protest again in front of the Parliament in Skopje and will not allow for the proposal to be voted and state exam to be introduced in Macedonian higher education.

One of the students read a speech taken from the movie “V for Vendetta” which was adapted for today’s student protest. “If you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you look for a solution as I am, then I urge you to stand with me, three days from now, in front of the parliament, and together will give them a reason to never forget 2014! “, said the student.

Students and professors spoke on the stage which was set in front of Government, there were performances from the music group “Vision” and rapper “Da Dzaka Nakot“, who called on the protesters to show the middle finger to the pro-government media, who round out students with red circles. Many media used this labeling technique as an attempt to show that the protests are organized by the opposition party SDSM and Soros Foundation.

Студентите и го фрлија Уставот на Владата за да го прочита

Students sent a message that they will not be broken. “It is said that the future remains to the youth, but now they treat us like criminals. So now we take the future into our own hands. Our task as young intellectuals is to participate in decisions that affect our lives and that is what we will do”, said one of the students.

Студентите и го фрлија Уставот на Владата за да го прочита

On behalf of the „Professors plenum“, the audience was addressed by Artan Sadiku, who noted that teachers and citizens come together in solidarity with the students.

“So far, students learned from their teachers, but now the teachers are the ones that learn from the students. So this will not pass”, said Sadiku.

“This is the beginning”, “External evaluation for the Government”, “No justice, no peace,” “Students, independent and strong” were just some of the slogans that were heard on today’s protest. The students declared the today’s protest a success, as the previous two marches that brought together more than ten thousand students on the streets of Skopje.

Only hours before the student protest started, the Parliamentary Commission for Education passed the bill on higher education with the proposal to introduce a state exam, which means that the bill will find itself on parliamentary session on Monday.

The amendments envisage the introduction of a state exam for students in the second and fourth year, including students who undergo their master studies. The students and universities reacted to the lack of consultations about this measure, its interference with the autonomy of the university, lack of clear purpose and affecting the students financially.

A couple of days ago, the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said he does not know why the students are protesting, since they will not take the state exam, whose implementation is prolonged for 2017.

“This exam is already implemented in several countries in Europe like Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary…With the state exam it will determined whether the student has a minimum knowledge to pass the exam”, said Gruevski.

Among other proposed measures the reform suggests that foreign diplomas cannot be recognized by the state if the candidate doesn’t pass the state exam, and prescribes penalties in range from 1 to 3 years in prison for the rector / dean who will issue a diploma to a student who did not take the state exam.

More information in Macedonian about the chronology of the today’s protest can be found on our live blog. For a photo gallery of the protest click here.

Kristina Ozimec