50,000 School Youth March In Paris

School youth demonstrating in Paris against government attacks on teachers and pupils
School youth demonstrating in Paris against government attacks on teachers and pupils

For the second time in a week 50,000 school youth demonstrated in Paris on Thursday against the cutting of teaching posts in colleges and lycées due in September; many teachers and parents joined in and police reported 37 arrests.

During the past three weeks school youth have been on the streets seven times in increasing numbers against staff cuts, oversized classes and course changes which will threaten the value of their qualifications.

The minister of education, Xavier Darcos, warned that his main focus was the ‘reform’ of the lycée system and that the loss of teachers jobs – 11,000 across education as a whole, 8,000 plus in secondary – was a side issue.

Two national days of strike and demonstrations have been called in May by eighteen education unions.

Meanwhile, President Sarkozy on Thursday unveiled ‘The Hospital Plan 2012’ for health reform.

In response to warnings from health professionals that 235 hospitals face the chop, Sarkozy claimed: ‘The reform does not mean the closure of hospitals. It’s the refusal to reform which will lead to it’.

He said local hospitals in an area would be ‘encouraged’ to regroup under threat of withdrawal of funding.

This would see many finding themselves unable to provide their present range of services.

The private sector would be called on to provide services in the public domain; casualty departments would be reorganised; the director of a hospital would become the ‘patron’, ie a business-style boss who would ensure the books were balanced; medical training and research would also be targeted.

A law will be put before the National Assembly in the autumn.