Call for solidarity with students

 In C19PC Statements

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Educators, students, administrators, parents, student organisations, unions and concerned members of the public. Help us ensure that no one is excluded or left behind due to universities and other institutions’ push toward online and remote learning.

The COVID-19 crisis places all in grave jeopardy. Yet, institutions of higher learning want to “save the academic year”. To this end, lecturers and students are instructed to prepare for online emergency remote teaching and learning from 20 April (with information following the extended lockdown still lacking at this date). In ours, the most unequal country in the world, where communities are in constant crisis, universities offer a combination of online learning and ‘alternative strategies’ for students without the necessary infrastructure. Both offers ignore the realities of the majority of students: lack of access to proper infrastructure, reliable electricity, data, and technology. Both ignore inequalities engineered by colonialism, apartheid and neoliberalism. Both reinscribe class, race and gender inequities. ‘Alternative strategies’ are likely to mark, stigmatise and ghetto-ise the most vulnerable and marginalised communities (still circumscribed by class, race, and gender – working class, black, brown, LGBTQI+ and women). These offers render the majority of students – whose living conditions are not conducive for learning at home – the ‘sacrificial lamb’ while the privileged few benefit.

The C-19 People’s Coalition calls for solidarity in the fight to protect the rights and dignity of ALL students for whom our classrooms (physical or online) should be spaces to develop, grow, and transform the world. We call for support to ensure that no one is excluded or left behind due to online or remote learning. This call is part of a broad consultative process which will lead to a solid set of proposals and demands and accompanying action for the protection of our students.

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