Zapatero faces critics over education reforms
14 November 2005, MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to meet parents who took part in a mass march against the Socialist government's school reforms.
14 November 2005
MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is to meet parents who took part in a mass march against the Socialist government's school reforms.
Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards marched through Madrid's streets to protest against education reforms on Saturday.
Organizers said some two million people took part in the march, though police said there were only half a million participants.
The protest was sponsored by a dozen organizations, including the Family Forum, the Catholic Parents Federation and CECE, an association of 5,800 private schools.
Several bishops and members of the conservative Popular Party (PP) also took part in the march.
Demonstrators oppose the government-sponsored legislation, dubbed the Organic Education Act, or LOE, that is being debated in congress.
The bill would, among other things, make religion an optional subject and not include it when counting a student's grade-point average.
It would also allow students only three chances to pass a course and introduce a single college entrance examination for high school graduates.
Thousands of protesters arrived in Madrid from around the country on buses, trains, planes and private cars and congregated at Plaza de Neptuno.
Entire families, groups of young people, teachers and members of religious orders joined the high-spirited demonstration, which featured constant shouts against the government and the prime minister.
At the end of the march, at a rally at Puerta de Alcala, organizers read a manifesto accusing the government of undertaking educational reform without taking the educational community into account and of violating parents' constitutional right to choose their children's education.
The education bill was the target of another massive protest on Tuesday on the part of the leftist Students Union, or SE, which complains the measure favors public-private charter schools to the detriment of public education.
Hours before the protest, education minister Maria Jesus San Segundo expressed her respect for protesters but insisted that their fears for the future of religious education and freedom to choose schools were "unfounded".
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news