French protest over school reforms

Protests over changes in education turn violent amid nationwide demonstrations.

Education protests, Paris, France
Organisers said about 13,600 people took part in protests in Paris [AFP]

Police in the French capital used tear gas after clashes on the margins of a demonstration in the old student quarter near the Luxembourg gardens, where organisers said about 13,600 people took part.

Protests over plans to revamp the school curriculum, cut classroom hours and slash 13,500 education jobs had already turned violent last week, with students again clashing with police in several cities.

Xavier Darcos, France’s education minister, had agreed to postpone the reforms amid fears of social unrest modelled on the on-going demonstrations that have engulfed Greece.

But French students have kept up calls for the plans to be dropped permanently.

‘Widespread misperceptions’

Francois Fillon, France’s prime minister, said the government was prepared to consider some changes to the reforms but he said there was no question of cancelling the project, which the government said was aimed at making the state school system more effective.

Fillon said: “We have decided to take more time with schools because there have been widespread misperceptions. We are going to re-open consultations, so we are ready to accept changes in the reform.”

Protesters insisted they would maintain their action until the government backed down definitively.

“We won’t resume discussions until the government gives up its plans to cut jobs,” said Alix Nicolet, president of the FIDL students’ union, who contrasted cuts in public spending with the sums used to bail out crisis-hit banks.

“You keep hearing about the financial crisis, that there’s no money for young people, and on the other hand you give out billions to the banks and of course that creates discontent,” she said.

Source: News Agencies