Thousands of teachers and students went on strike in Spain on Tuesday in protest against steep government cuts to education spending and higher university tuition fees.
Unions said an average of 80 percent of teachers from every level of Spain’s education system, from primary school to university, took part in the job action but the education ministry said turnout was just 19 percent.
In Barcelona, Spain’s second-largest city, thousands of protesters marched through the streets to protest the government austerity measures.
Police put turnout at around 25,000 but union officials said up to 150,000 people took part in the march.
“Against Cuts to Education” and “Cuts = Stealing” were among the signs on display.
The march included entire families and teachers wearing yellow T-shirts that read: “SOS Public Education.”
Protests are planned for several other Spanish cities, including Madrid, later Tuesday.
“This does not just affect teachers and students. This touches us all. I worked as a concierge which allowed me to send my daughter to university. But are her children going to be able to study?” asked 65-year-old pensioner Rogelia Fortuna at the Barcelona march.
“We all must hit the streets and cry out to demand public education and health care of quality, just as we have had up until now,” added another protester, 29-year-old philosophy student Joanna Marti Virgili.
Spain is seeking to slash its public deficit to 5.3 percent of gross domestic product this year from 8.9 percent last year through painful tax hikes and spending cuts.
The austerity measures include cuts worth three billion euros ($3.8 billion) to education spending this year and seven billion euros in cuts to health care.