Protesting students clash with riot police in Paris

7th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 7 (AFP) - Several violent incidents were reported Thursday as groups of school students maintained a campaign of protests against a government reform of the education system.

PARIS, April 7 (AFP) - Several violent incidents were reported Thursday as groups of school students maintained a campaign of protests against a government reform of the education system.

In Paris a crowd of around 200 teenagers broke the windows of the education authority building and occupied the hall for several hours before being escorted out by riot police.

Elsewhere in the capital several secondary schools - or lycees - were blockaded by students. A deputy headmaster was hit on the head with a bottle, and a student was hospitalised after being hit by an angry motorist trying to force a way through the crowd.

In the northern city of Lille riot police used tear-gas to disperse a crowd of around 300 who were throwing stones in front of government offices. In the southern town of Beziers seven students were detained after scuffles with police.

Education Minister Francois Fillon promised before parliament that "whenever there is an attempt to blockade we will intervene."

"I will not allow a tiny minority to prevent the smooth running of the education system just a few weeks before the baccalaureat (leaving examination)," he said.

The students were answering a call from a radical left-wing committee to continue protests against Fillon's education bill, despite the fact that it was voted through parliament two weeks ago. They have the support of some teachers' unions and parents' groups as well as the Communist party.

The bill is intended to halt the decline in educational standards that today results in 150,000 French students leaving high school at 18 with no qualification and 80,000 11-year-olds unable to read or write correctly.

Among its innovations are a "core" of knowledge and skills to be attained by students; the extension of foreign language teaching; and guaranteed extra tuition for failing students via "individual success contracts."

The most controversial proposition - a reform of the baccalaureat (high school leaving exam) to introduce an element of continuous assessment - was dropped as a result of earlier student protests.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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