How to pronounce the name Svrcek

education: "My concern for 50 years"

Bettina Figl and Christian Rösner

Vienna. Initiator Hannes Androsch announced a "strong autumn storm" at the start of the popular education initiative on Thursday - but the rush in the municipal office in Wipplingerstraße in the 1st district was more like calm, high-pressure weather. The supporters arrived slowly, there were no long queues.

"This has been a matter of concern to me for 50 years," explains pensioner Karl Schindler, explaining why he signed the request. But for some here the demands do not go far enough; Edith Svrcek-Seiler, also already retired, would have liked the comprehensive school as a demand: "The Social Democrats already demanded this in the interwar period." But the formulation is vague: "The separation of children according to their interests and talents" should take place for the first time at the end of compulsory schooling, it says. When Svrcek-Seiler wants to give her signature, she is refused: she has already signed the declaration of support. The pensioner is one of around 52,000 people who gave their approval to the initiative between March and July. Now as many signatures are necessary again so that the 100,000 mark is reached and the referendum has to be dealt with in parliament.

Dieter Nell would also have liked to have the comprehensive school in the text. Why is he signing? "Because I have three children." Because of the "nonsense of this system", his daughter had to study medicine in Munich.

Gabriele Mirbach is an X-ray assistant, childless and personally not affected by the education system - she signs because "you are not alone in the world". She supports all points of the education initiative. The architect Markus Swittalek also says: "It's a good thing in terms of content. It's not about every detail." Precisely because politics is not active enough, it is good and important that citizens take the initiative.

"Unusual Coalition"

At the opening press conference for the popular education initiative on Thursday morning, Hannes Androsch, ex-head of the rector Hans Sünkel, Veit Sorger, President of the Federation of Industrialists, the Green Education Spokesperson Harald Walser and the management consultant Gundi Wentner presented themselves as an "unusual coalition of experts, future-oriented and sensible people in education" as Walser put it.

The alliance of the most varied of groups - from ÖVP and SPÖ-affiliated organizations to the Liberal Forum, the Greens and the conservative IV - shows the "national consensus with the aim of reaching the 21st century across the entire educational spectrum," stressed Androsch . In any case, for him it is "unbearable that everything is still being squeezed into the students every 50 minutes on 150 mornings a year".

Sorger lamented the "drying up" of qualified personnel in the industrial sector: "We need the best education system to maintain the business location." According to Sünkel, you have to give full throttle from a financial point of view. For Androsch, the money for this is "inside the system". According to the OECD, only one of two education euros spent would arrive in class. With the request you want to put so much pressure "that the parties are afraid of losing votes if they don't act," said Wentner. In terms of comprehensive school, according to Walser, the ÖVP's blockade is already beginning to crumble.

Few opponents left

And in fact, there seem to be only a few opponents of the referendum left: on Thursday, numerous supporters again expressed their support and only a few opponents spoke up. Social partners such as the Federation of Industrialists and the Chamber of Labor supported the demands that the 21 universities mobilize their students. A "no" came only from the student union, which is close to the ÖVP, and the "educational platform performance & diversity", which speaks of "actionism".