Exclusive - schools to be sold off

HOW MANY parents would want their child's school to be run by Jarvis, the company widely held to be responsible for some of the worst disasters on the railways since they were privatised in Britain?

This may well happen, and sooner than you might think. We have received information that a hit list of schools and libraries to be privatised is being drawn up secretly by the Government and the Education and Library Boards.

Schools will be sold off in "bundles" because there is not enough profit in owning an individual school. It has been mooted that a "bundle" well in excess of 20 million, which is New Labour's "minimum amount" that should be put out to contract in one tender, has been prepared by the South Eastern Education and Library Board for all secondary schools in Lisburn and outlying areas of Belfast.

The value of the PPP/PFI privatisation schemes is expected to be in the region of 100 million in each of the five education boards, 500 million in all. This process is well advanced in the South Eastern Board and, according to our information, Jarvis is the current favoured bidder.

The idea behind this is that the private sector would build new schools and libraries and then hire them back to the public sector over 25 years at a huge profit. Meanwhile we will have companies like those who have made such a disaster of British rail in charge of our school buildings and grounds as well as all staff except the teachers.

Our education system is there to educate young people not to make a profit for multinational companies. We need a massive campaign to stop this sell off.

The education trade unions should give the lead in this. They should link up with parents and local communities to build a huge protest campaign.

Unions in the South Eastern Board, where the sell off proposal is more advanced, have already decided to launch a campaign. As well as protests and other public forms of opposition, they are preparing for industrial action to protect jobs, conditions and stop the sell off.

Education workers across other Boards need to take similar action which should be co-ordinated across the five Boards. If the New Labour Ministers press ahead with plans to privatise our schools a one day education strike and day of massive protest action should be the first decisive step in a campaign to defeat them.

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This article is from the March 2004 edition of Socialist Voice.

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