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Thousands of Spanish teachers and students take to the streets

By Stephen Morgan     May 10, 2013 in World
Hundreds of thousands of teachers and students joined protests yesterday in yet another revolt against austerity measures in Spain.
RT is reporting that 70 percent of teachers in the main Spanish cities came out on strike with Thursday’s action affecting "all levels of education," backed up by union pickets across schools and universities throughout Spain." Press TV reports that the demonstrations were called by The Platform for the Defense of Public Schools, which is protesting against cuts in the education budget, which it says have led to fewer teachers and larger classes and growing shortages of educational materials. The Platform unites labor unions plus the CEAPA parents association and the Students' Union.
One of the main Spanish newspapers, El Pais, reported that Thursday’s strike follows two weeks of protests involving hundreds of "lock-ins, vigils and all manner of other mobilizations at education centers across the country." It says protests took place yesterday in cities across Spain. In Barcelona an estimated 100,000 people marched from the main University to the Plaza Sant Jaume.
RT quotes Almudena Cabezas, politics professor at Madrid's Complutense University, who spoke with the Associated Press as saying, "Pupils are being harassed with tax increases and are having to cancel enrollments. Also, administrative staff are having their salaries reduced and are being fired... so I think we have every reason to be here today."
In 2012, the government announced cuts to public education and health services of some 10 billion Euros ($13 billion) aiming to reduce its massive debt. Education spending was cut by 14 percent between 2011-2012 and a program of further cuts will be submitted to the Council of Minsters Friday and will then be debated in Parliament.
People are also annoyed because the cuts favor more religious teaching and also less facilities for regional languages like Basque, Catalan and Galician. The protesters marched to the Education Ministry demanding the resignation of the Minister in charge, Jose Ignacio Wert.
El Pais interviewed one protester, Paz Martínez, a civil servant and mother of a 15-year-old, who said, “[I am here] because I don’t want everything that I chose for my child dismantled, because I sincerely believe that the quality is in public teaching, and many of us choose it because we believe in it.”
Unemployment stands at 27 percent hitting the youth particularly hard and many feel that the education cuts will further reduce their chances of finding employment. Euro Weekly News reports that the country's Federal Statistics Office said that 1,081 million Spaniards emigrated to Germany last year, up 13 per cent from 2011. Unemployment in Germany is just under 7 percent.
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