Teachers and students in Spain held rallies in towns and cities across the country in protest at government reforms aimed at slashing public spending.
For Education, a proposed three billion euro budget reduction translates into fewer teachers, more students per class, and higher university tuition fees.
For ANPE union leader Nicolas Fernandez, the cuts will impact on a staggering unemployment rate among Spain’s under 25 year-olds : “We cannot allow 50 per cent of our youth to be unemployed,” he said. “We need more training and investment in a professional education which is exactly the opposite of what’s being done with this reform.”
Maths professor Julio said : “The situation in the state schools will be very serious. If they raise the number of students per class it will be impossible. Schools will change from providing a quality education to becoming merely a car park for children.”
Some protesters went as far as saying the cuts were so harsh they would be the death of the country’s educational system.
German student Mareike is studying for a Masters degree: “It’s said the fees are to be increased by 66 or even 100 per cent. This means that most of my colleagues won’t be able to finish their studies.”
Tuesday’s stoppage was the biggest in a series of strikes with unions claiming an average of 80 per cent of members took part although the government disputed that figure putting it at around 20 per cent.