A mass demonstration of teachers, parents and students from all over Spain occupied the centre of Madrid on Saturday sending a warning to the authorities: Don’t slash our education budget!
The so-called "March to Madrid" was organized by the national education unions, the parents’ association and the national union of students who resist severe austerity measures that were announced by the conservative party, expected to win the national elections next month.
In several parts of the country teachers have already been laid off, and class sizes and teaching hours increased, putting education quality at risk. The organizers also strongly oppose plans to privatize parts of the school system, including facilitating the establishment of charter schools.
The demonstration was headed by the general secretaries of the national trade union confederations CCOO and UGT and leaders of the EI member organisations in Spain.
“Quality public education is the only way to ensure equal opportunities for all, to achieve social cohesion in our country, and to overcome the current economic crisis,” said Jose Campos, General Secretary of FECCOO/CCOO, one of the initiators of the march. Carlos Lopez, General Secretary of FETE/UGT, said :“Our public schools should not have to pay for a crisis they have not caused.”
Some 100,000 protesters took part in the march, including representatives of teachers’ organizations from other European countries, as well as the President and General Secretary of Education International, Susan Hopgood and Fred van Leeuwen.
In support of the Spanish education unions, the international participants issued a statement urging “all governments to cease their attacks on our public education systems, on teachers and on the entire education community, and to start pursuing plans to improve education quality for a better future for all, based on equity and equality”.