Teachers and students take to the streets of Spain to protest against cuts to the public education system.
Video length 02 minutes 18 seconds
Thousands of teachers and students have taken to the streets of Spain to protest spending cuts they say are destroying the country’s public education system.
In Madrid, protesters – many wearing green T-shirts that have become the symbol of their movement against budget cuts – marched on Thursday towards the Ministry of Education. The demonstrators called on Jose Ignacio Wert, Minister of Education, to resign.
“We have a small budget and they are reducing it more and more. There are fewer and fewer teachers and more and more students,” Fernanda Gonzalez, a 39-year-old high school English teacher, said at the protest.
Pupils in this crisis-ridden EU country are performing below EU standards in maths and foreign languages.
One day strike
The protests coincided with a day-long strike by teachers, students and support staff that affected all levels of education.
The organizers claimed a participation rate of 70% of teachers in the strike, while the Ministry of Education put the figure at 20%.
Demonstrations also took place in several other cities, including Barcelona, Spain’s second city, Seville, Valencia and Zaragoza.
Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Madrid, said that although many Spaniards agree their education system needs reform, the changes proposed by the government are not the way to fix Spain’s shortcomings. .
The Public School Defense Platform, which brings together students, teachers and administrative staff, has called a strike to protest austerity measures which they say are undermining the public education system.
They are also angered by a planned education reform, which establishes new grading systems, allows for larger class sizes and increases the proportion of classes in Spanish at the expense of regional languages.
The budget of the Ministry of Education was reduced by 14% between 2012 and 2013.
The cuts have caused college tuition to skyrocket, increased class sizes, lower scholarships for higher education, and school bus cuts for elementary school students in rural areas.