segunda-feira, abril 30, 2007

'' [web-based] discussion... the contribution of «Rete per l’Autoformazione» (Italy)

Who we are

This text [dated March 1st] is a partial contribution to the Edu-Factory [web-based] discussion by the «Rete per l’Autoformazione» («Network for Self-Education») in Rome. In this text we briefly describe our political work inside and outside the University. In a few weeks time we’ll post a more elaborated contribution about conflicts in the knowledge production.

Our network was born in December 2005, after a mobilization (in Rome and many other italian Universities) against a law which increased the precarity of researchers (the entry rung in the italian academic system) and academic labor in general. The interesting element of this experience of struggle is that, starting from a ‘partial’ issue – the condition of the University researcher – the students attacked the general question of the relationship between knowledge and production. The financial autonomy of the Universities, which was introduced all around Europe in the 90s, was for the first time overthrown. There emerged the possibility for the self-management of education on the part of the students (turning institutional sites into spaces for self-managed seminars) and for political conflict in autonomy from the representative logic of the party. For us the University is a public space and a site of application for the new struggles of cognitive labor. On the 25th October 2005 a demonstration with 150.000 students and precarious researchers besieged the Italian Parliament against the law: this is a paradigmatic event that marked the possibility for the University to become, in the framework of cognitive capitalism, a strong detonator of social transformation.

The «Network for Self-Education» is a political laboratory of students and precarious researchers from many Faculties, both scientific and humanistic. In fact, the Network is a device that cuts and criss-crosses the borders between University disciplines, the division between teaching and research, and the borderline between education and metropolitan production. This kind of self-education is a new form of political organization, a collective gear in which theory lives in praxis. It approaches the struggles surrounding knowledge production (and the quality and control of knowledge flows) as a strategic field of conflict for the cognitive workforce.

Self-education and Knowledge Quality

The ‘self-education project’ consists in building up courses that are self-managed by the students. This kind of self-education overthrows the institutional academic model with regard to both the contents and the methods of knowledge transmission. The topics of the courses are collectively chosen and then developed by experimental ‘hybrid’ groups, which are composed of precarious researchers and students. For example, last year we ran a course on ‘Political Sovereignty in the Modern Age’ in the Department of Political Science: if the ordinary programs analyse sovereignty from the point of view of state theory, considering power as transcendent with respect to struggles, in the self-education seminars we tried to re-propose the question of sovereignty on the plan of immanence, reconstructing – in a genealogical way – the history and theory of resistance inside and against the development of modernity.

As regards methods, as we explain above, self-education attempts to deconstruct the traditional model of knowledge transmission and research. The seminars attempt to break with the classical division between the professor on one side and the users/clients on the other. They follow more the ‘circle model’ than the frontal lecture, favouring the moment of discussion and collective study. From this point of view, the seminars attempt to establish a new relationship between study and research, assuming these two aspects as interdependent. In a framework in which the multiplication of University courses means first of all the specialization of curriculum and the fragmentation of knowledge, self-education tries to knock down the rigid perimeters of the disciplines: so, concepts have to be analysed and understood through schemes of knowledge that are at once historical, philosophical, scientific, and so on.

What makes this self-education a conflictual device is the ‘inflation’ of educational credits? In fact, some years ago - in the framework of the ‘Bologna process’ (the effort to build a European common space of Higher Education through the harmonization of the reform programs in the different countries of the EU) - the Italian University introduced an economic language and system. The curriculum, rigidly settled, is subdivided in modules; to each module is attributed a numerical value. This number and measure is the credit, which – artificially – corresponds to the summation of individual study and (obligatory) attendance hours. The credit system is based on an absurd assumption: that learning and study can be rigidly calculated, disassembled and measured. So, we reclaim the credits in recognition of our participation in the self-education seminars to deconstruct this measurement system from within. This means, in other words, that we favour the use value of the knowledge over its exchange value.

Cartography of the self-education courses:

Political Science: Transformation of the Labor Paradigm and Workers Struggles (October 2006 – May 2007);
Literature: University Transformations between Sixty-Eight and Today (March – June 2007);
Physics: Critics of Neuroscience from mathematical models to structures (October 2006 – June 2007);
Philosophy-Psychology: Mind and Language (September – December 2007);
Law: Migrations, New Borders of Control (April – May 2007);
Political Science-Psychology-Medicine: Anti-Prohibitionism (September – December 2007).

Outline of our contribution to ‘Edu-factory’

As a collective of students and precarious researchers we are collaborating with the Edu-Factory project because we think it’s indispensable to debate – from an oppositional point of view – the changes to the University system, to identify the transnational trends, and to act toward a transformation. We hope to link our struggles and self-education activities with other groups, militant scholars, and activists. We would like to map the production of oppositional knowledge around the world, to share our experiences and analysis; to make a sort of cartography of radical thought and action in the framework of the Higher Education system, and along its borders. In fact, we think borders are the central zone of political intervention: the borders between academy and metropolitan area, the borders between education and the labor market, the borders between institutional crisis and diffuse knowledge production. (Here and above, we use the term metropolis in a particular way, which we’ll explain in the next contribution we send to the list).

Below we propose a synthetic layout of [8] topics and analytical nodes: on the basis of these, we’ll have a collective discussion among ourselves, and then we’ll write a longer intervention to send to the list at the beginning of April [remember that this text is dated March 1st].

- That knowledge is a central means of production in contemporary society.

- In what we call the passage from exclusion to ‘differential inclusion’ in the Higher Education system, institutional knowledge is also a means to produce hierarchy in the (knowledge) labor market, to construct class, race, and gender divisions, and to control the mobility of free students and precarious researchers.

- The academy is exceeded by flows of knowledge production: the problem for us is not to re-build the ivory tower, but to transform the metropolitan area into an oppositional University.

- There is a contradiction between the capitalistic necessity to measure knowledge production and the excess of knowledge production with respect to the law of value.

- The ‘knowledge factory’ category is, at once, useful and inadequate: useful, because it describes the ways in which students’ labor becomes immediately productive; inadequate, because there is an irreducible gap between the ‘tayloristic-fordist’ factory and the current organization of knowledge production.

- Today, based on this gap, the conflicts in the University are conflicts in the knowledge production: between autonomy and subordination, and between the imposition of capitalistic time and the affirmation of subjective times in knowledge production.

- Our self-education courses are not simply a way to spread out antagonistic messages, but a flight line and a form of exodus from the crisis of academy, in its state and corporate forms: they are an attempt to organize an oppositional University not in the far future but in the present.

- Knowledge is a common good not because it exists in nature, but because it is produced by living labor - by what we call living knowledge.

Rete per l’Autoformazione – Rome (Italy)

domingo, abril 29, 2007

[El 11 de Abril:] Okupada una Facultad abandonada en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)

Esta mañana [el 11 de Abril] después de una concentración por la recuperación de los espacios para estudiantes, varias decenas de estudiantes han okupado la antigua y abandonada (desde 1992) Facultad de Física de la UCM, satisfaciendo así la necesidad de tener espacios autogestionados en una Universidad que se vende a las empresas y coloca a los estudiantes como usuari@s.

Si te quieres pasar a colaborar no lo dudes, hay jornadas continuas de limpieza, pintura, convivencia y curro colectivo.

La Facultad Okupada es de tod@s, propón las actividades que quieras.
Más info: la cobertura de la okupación por «La Haine» y un video de la okupación de la antigua Facultad de Física.

sábado, abril 28, 2007

Global Action Week (from 23rd to 29th of April)

The Global Action Week Advisory Group recommends the theme for the 2007 campaign:

Education As a Human Right

A basic education is a right inherent to being human, each child's birthright and thus constitutes an end in itself. However, education is also a means to an end: it is required to ensure all people can live in a dignified manner and participate effectively in society. It also enables human beings to exercise all the other human rights (enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Unfortunately there is often a gap between the language of "rights" and the setting of "development goals" (which are often more influential in defining the actions of Governments). The Education For All [EFA] goals, that were reaffirmed at the Dakar World Education Forum in 2000, were unusual in recognising the right to Education: "(...) all children, young people and adults have the human right to benefit from an education that will meet their basic learning needs (...) Ensuring that by 2015 all children... have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality".

Next year, 2007, is a crucial year as it is the mid-point towards the EFA goals. Time is running out to achieve these. It is an important moment for demanding more urgent action towards achieving education rights. Rather than being a distant ideal these rights need to be converted into a reality now – and the EFA goals gives us a deadline.

The focus on Education as a Human Right leads the campaign to promote the entire Education For All agenda. Too many Governments have been pressurised to make choices between investing in one part of EFA over another. But education rights cannot be traded off against one another. Adults and pre-school children have as much right to education as primary school children. A rights-based approach means we need to look at the 6 EFA goals holistically or as a chain - rather taking any one of them separately.

Delivering on these 6 EFA goals is not an act of charity by Governments – rather it is their responsibility as Governments to deliver on the right to education for all their citizens. If a Government fails, it is not just that they are missing out on a globally agreed goal - rather they will be violating a basic right and should be held accountable. Focusing on "rights" should give us more passion and purpose than ever.

The idea is that civil society would create a chain of testimony and accountability from local to national then onto regional and international so that world leaders are at the end of a civil society monitoring chain - a 'chain' physically and metaphorically to pass up the realities of where EFA is 'on the ground' and what violations there are to education as a human right.


1st Line: Join Up For Education
2nd Line: Reach For Rights Now


A strong feeling across the coalitions, expressed in surveys as well as the GAWAG [Global Action Week Advisory Group] calls, is that the activity should ensure:
1. Consistency with previous years' action weeks;
2. Northern and Southern coalitions need to complement each other;
3. Needs to be able to deliver something to decision-makers.

The 2007 activities will be centred around the concept of 'chains' of people, either represented through artwork such as cut-outs or physical chains of people joining hands. This makes the campaign action flexible to both Northern and Southern concepts. Human chains are a strong campaigning action – as it signifies standing in solidarity with others and also the responsibility, the important link that every person plays.

As in previous years, there will be a number of stages to the Action Week:

Stage 1: Evidence Gathering
Coalitions and campaigners to create dossiers or collect testimonies to gather evidence of violations to the right to education and how far the EFA has succeeded. i.e. Building a file of examples on the ground of the 'non achievement' of education for all and the effect and testimonies from people who are not able to receive an education.

Stage 2: Officials to receive messages to take to leaders
Officials go to local meeting points (not just schools) to be the first stage in the chain reaction who 'accept' the evidence of where the EFA goals have got to and hear the reality of those who do not get a education.

Stage 3: Common Global Mass Campaign Action
Human chains created around the world where people join hands or make 'friend' style cut out figures as paper chains that join together. Chains act as the means of the delivery of the dossiers and evidence to Governments. These could be photographed from above and also spell out the key messages and slogans around the issues of 'education rights' and that 'the time to act is now!' This could lead to good photo opportunities which then get counted for the final tally of the Worlds' Largest People Chain.

National Action Weeks (GAW) – This week is the main focus of actions to take place during GAW.

Europe Coalitions - different lobby and campaign actions from January until June G8 (for which the Southern GAW activities can count for numbers of voices).


Education as a human right needs to be re-endorsed by World Leaders (reference Declaration of Human Rights). It allows a full focus on global leaders' commitments to EFA at a half way point to 2015. As the largest and most encompassing theme it could bring in a new constituency of supporters and civil society groups to the campaign such as Amnesty International. This could also broaden the membership base away from being mainly 'educationalists'.


This theme is enshrined in the Global Campaign For Education's [GCE] constitution and is a tacit basic principle for the who GCE campaign. It is quite a complex and subtle concept to explain as a theme in itself.

Media Possibilities

This theme would allow for good opportunities for powerful images and headlines about the effect of the violations to rights. It could draw out case studies about the lives of people are like when they are not able to receive an education. For this reason it would be a useful way of getting education issues into the mainstream media such as the tabloids.

Photos opportunities:
1. Chains of people or cut-outs around schools across the world with chains of people or cut-outs around parliamentary and prominent buildings;
2. Chains crossing boarders, boarding planes, trains & automobiles Cut-out chains around officials' cars.

Possible celebrities to endorse: Angelina Jolie and the Queen Of Jordan.

General Underlying Message

At least 80 million children are still out of school and many more are dropping out before they complete primary school. We are making a difference and joined up we can achieve much more. Progress needs to accelerate quickly if we are to reach the goal of having all children complete primary school by 2015.

In most cases it is possible to track this improvement to new government policies for example the abolition of fees/increased investment and international aid - which in many cases have been influenced by national and international campaigning.

To achieve this, education systems had to expand to absorb as many as 40 million more (owing to population growth). However it is still important to note thing we should keep in strong focus is that this is 80 million children who are not in school at all.

There are many more children who are not attending school in practice. The challenge therefore remains huge.

It is important to keep the general messaging from what EFA coalitions have been saying in previous years i.e. 80 million children and almost a billion adults still do not receive an education that is their RIGHT. It is imperative that leaders show political will and fulfil their commitments and promises made in Dakar 2000.

Therefore the general hierarchy of messages for the 2007 campaign are:
1. Education is about fundamental inherent human rights.
2. 2007 is the mid way point for the EFA goals and at current rates of progress these are not going to be met.
3. 80 million children are still out of school, and almost a billion adults are illiterate.
4. What are you as leaders going to do about it NOW before it is too late?

The previous Global Action Week campaigns have shown that if we unite and speak with one voice, we can make a powerful impact and force our leaders to take action before it is too late. The EFA goals must be met and the leaders of the world should not let another generation of children and adults go without an education.

Policy recommendations will be developed that build on those of previous years to address the wider obstacles to achieving the whole EFA agenda. These will be included in the planning pack that will be available on the GCE website: and email by 27th October.

If you are uncertain about the work involved for the Week of Action please email the Action Week coordinator, Lucy Tweedie.

Download GAW 2007 Campaign Planning Pack and GAW 2007 materials design pack.

Radical University Notwork

Matteo Pasquinelli [autor do livro «MEDIA ACTIVISM, strategie e pratiche della comunicazione indipendente»] criou um (ainda parcial) repositório de endereços em que se "mapeia" projectos em volta do activismo académico/universitário e da Universidade sob o conceito de "Universidade Radical": a «Radical University Notwork» no a sua consulta é muito aconselhável!!

sexta-feira, abril 27, 2007

Undoing Capitalism: Skills for Change

Methods and tools of Popular Education for the AntiCapitalist Movement. A ten day workshop and training experience [April 28th to May 6th, in Trebnitz on Brandenburg region, Germany].
It's not the analysis of neoliberal globalization which is missing, but rather practices of transmitting and exchanging knowledge. Also missing are ways of inspiring people to engage in political action.

Political education from below, in the sense of Popular Education, is underdeveloped within the movement of globalization critics. It’s not only way more fun than reading texts but also reaches and inspires more people.

In these four workshops you can experience and learn about:

• capitalism and anti-capitalism using methods of Popular Education;
• tools and approaches for training social activists;
• how to use these skills within non-hierarchical organizing procesess.

Organization: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in cooperation with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and Training for Change.

[Further informations and registration form]