Spanish school and university protest at education cuts

Teachers' demonstration in Valencia - 16 May Government cuts have triggered a variety of protests throughout Spain

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Schools and universities in Spain have closed in protest at government cuts - the first ever strike across all levels of public education in the country.

Pupils, parents and teachers have joined the protests.

The cuts will see class sizes increase, teachers will have to work more hours for the same pay and university tuition fees will increase by up to 25%.

The government says the cuts, of more than 20%, are necessary so it can meet its spending targets for this year.

It believes this is crucial for the Spanish economy to start growing again.

The strike is taking place in all regions of Spain except for the Basque Country and the Balearic Islands.

Since winning power in December's elections, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to undertake harsh austerity measures, promising major reforms every week.

The protests come just over a week after police cleared anti-austerity demonstrations from the Puerta del Sol square in central Madrid.

Evening marches


The 10bn euros (£8bn) worth of additional cuts to health and education are by far the most controversial area of the Spanish government's austerity programme.

At Pio Baroja secondary school in southern Madrid, head teacher Jose Antonio Martinez told us classes are already full.

Under the government's reforms, the number of students in school classes will increase, and he says his students will become "like sardines in a can".

Alongside the teachers at Tuesday's protests across Spain are university students.

Tuition fees are set to rise by 15%-25%, and although that will be much cheaper than in other European countries, the policy has attracted strong opposition, because many believe it will stop poorer students from going to university.

Andreu Vela, a 21-year-old journalism student at Madrid's Complutense University, dressed up as the Grim Reaper to march around the campus with his fellow demonstrators.

"For us, the university so far has been a place of knowledge, that's our idea of the university - now it's becoming a place of recruiting armies of workers," he told the Associated Press news agency.

"This strike is necessary because we have to tell everyone what it means to cut spending in a country where education is not as good as in other countries," Begonia Sanchez, a long-time schoolteacher who now runs an educational centre, told Reuters in Madrid.

Ms Sanchez was planning to attend an evening protest march in the capital. Similar demonstrations are planned in cities across the country.

Ricardo Sanchez, father of a school pupil in Madrid, told AP he was against the strike.

"It does not convince me," he said.

"I work many hours a day and I think everybody should do that, I think it's the best we can do in this crisis. We should all work hard."

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