Tens of thousands protest Spanish education cuts

4th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Tens of thousands of teachers and students massed in Madrid's streets Tuesday to protest education spending cuts by the Spanish capital's regional government.

After a first demonstration September 20 followed by one-day strikes, teachers, parents, students and pupils rallied again under the slogan "public education of all, for all."

They massed in Madrid's centre, wearing green T-shirts that have become a symbol of the protest.

"At a time when Spain needs to improve its competitiveness, I think it is a mistake to be cutting spending on teaching," said 38-year-old Spanish literature teacher Carmen Abellan.

"What is at stake is the future of our country," Abellan said, reacting against a Madrid regional government demand that teachers spend an extra two hours a week in the classroom so as to reduce spending on supply staff.

"The government is pushing the idea that we should work two more hours but the problem is that there are fewer teachers, we are talking about 3,000 fewer teachers, " she said.

Many parents and school pupils joined the protest.

Elroy Romero, 48-year-old parent of two children at school, was wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word "father".

"I am very worried about what is happening to teaching in Spain. I have two children and I don't want quality education to be reserved only for private schools," he said.

Pressed by the ruling Socialist central government to shore up its balance sheet, the Madrid regional government, run by the conservative Popular Party, has asked teachers to increase in-class teaching time by two hours to 20 hours out of their total 38.5-hour working week.

Unions say the step will lead to a reduction in the quality of education and fewer new teacher hires and they have called for three more days of strikes in October.

© 2011 AFP

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