Thousands protest education cuts
Demonstrators marched in Paris Sunday to protest the French government’s proposed education cuts.20 October 2008
PARIS -- Tens of thousands of protestors marched in Paris on Sunday to demand that the French government cancel proposed education cuts and invest in schools as the best way to confront the financial
Organisers of the national day of protest said 80,000 people took part in the march but police put the figure at 32,000.
Shouting slogans like "Banks or education: I've made my choice!" and "Investing in schools is our future", the protestors -- mostly teachers and students -- accused the government of failing to prioritise education.
The protest was held a few weeks before parliament is to debate the education budget for 2009, which provides for 13,500 job cuts.
Close to 20,000 jobs were cut in 2007 and 2008 under President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to reduce the civil service by not replacing many of the retiring employees.
Higher Education Minister Valerie Pecresse said the protest was "unjustified and out of sync" with reality.
"Education today is the top priority of the government", she said.
The protest was organised by 47 groups -- parent associations, teachers’ unions and others -- in the latest show of opposition to the budget cuts.
Leading politicians in the opposition Socialist Party took part, including Paris Mayor Betrand Delanoe who is the frontrunner to win the party leadership in November.
"This is a matter of urgency. Education is in jeopardy", Delanoe said.
Sarkozy campaigned for the presidency in 2007 on a plan to reduce the civil service as part of a broader plan to repair the state and limit public spending.
[AFP / Expatica]