Unions say up to 70% of Spanish teachers followed a national strike Thursday over cuts, according to El Pais and other Spanish newspapers.
Classes in Spain – from kindergarten to university – have been affected by this general strike in education, which is the second in a year, against budget cuts amounting to 6,700 million euros since 2010. Students and parents turned out in support of the strike.
This time impending education reforms that are seen as an attack on universal education open to all, regardless of social class, are also the target of popular anger.
The day will conclude with demonstrations in cities throughout Spain.
Thousands of protesters have already gathered in Galicia, Valencia, Murcia and Barcelona.
Surrounded by riot police, as many as 100,000 marched in the Catalan capital, according to organisers. In Valencia, about 4,000 students have taken to the streets amid tensions with police. Several banks – recipients of billions of euros in public aid – were targeted with projectiles and there have been three arrests so far.
This Thursday’s strike is the culmination of two weeks of protests during which there have been hundreds of closures, vigils and all kinds of mobilizations.
Austerity cuts have seen teachers’ wages cut by 15% and some 60,000 job losses.
For ‘much of the educational community’ reforms promoted by the government are designed to ‘cut the cost education system, make it more elitist and segregate poorly performing students,’ says El Pais. Public funds for private, religious and same-sex schools are also being challenged by protesters.
The radical United Left party describes the reforms as ‘segregating, classist, retrograde and profoundly undemocratic.’
Rejecting what it says is a return to ‘Franco’s educational model’, the communist-led party has come up with counter proposals that aim to ‘extend, consolidate and strengthen public education’, deliver ‘quality with equity to avoid failure’ and ensure a state school system that is ‘inclusive, intercultural and secular’.