Clashes break out during French PM's school visit

2nd June 2008, Comments 0 comments

High-school students and parents were up pitted against the police outside a Paris school visited by the prime minster.

2 June 2008

PARIS - Clashes pitted French high-school students and parents against the police on Monday as a rally outside a Paris school to mark a visit by Prime Minister Francois Fillon turned violent.

Police said a gendarme was injured in the scuffles, and three youths were arrested, one carrying a knife.

They were among the 150 demonstrators outside the school, which Fillon had chosen to highlight the government's education policies.

"Demonstrations are not the way to solve problems," said Fillon, who was booed by demonstrators as he arrived shortly afterwards, accompanied by Justice Minister Rachida Dati and Education Minister Xavier Darcos.

France has faced months of protests and strikes over government plans to cut 22,900 civil servant jobs including 11,200 in education this September and another 35,000 next year, mostly by not replacing retiring staff.

"Ladies and gentlemen ministers, you are not welcome," read flyers being handed out outside the school.

Higher Education Minister Valerie Pecresse received a similar welcome during a trip to Toulouse University in the southwest, where 300 to 400 students and researchers rallied against an ongoing reform of French universities.

Some students hurled folders at the police, who responded with tear gas.

President Nicolas Sarkozy was due later Monday to meet key figures from the education world to outline a long-term plan to raise standards in French schools and universities.

[AFP / Expatica]

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