Battling to save thousands of jobs, French teachers and union activists have marched in Paris against the government’s far-reaching education reforms. President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to cut teaching posts as part of a wider programme to reduce the country’s vast civil service. He sees reducing public spending as essential to overhauling the country’s economy. He maintains France is living beyond its means.
But unions say redundancies on such a scale will severely undermine the quality of education at a time of rising pupil numbers. Strikes have brought down previous French governments but Sarkozy has already taken on the unions on other issues and shows no sign of backing down on this one.