Last Thursday around 200,000 teachers and students took to the streets across France against the government’s attacks on education. The strike was called by all the teachers’ and students’ unions. The right-wing administration of Nicolas Sarkozy wants to cut the education budget rather than focussing on improving teaching and learning conditions.
The government’s aim could be summarised in one slogan: reduce the number of teachers to save money. This will mean 13,500 job cuts for September 2009 and 3,000 job losses for special needs assistants in primary schools. Teachers will have to work extra if they want to earn more instead of receiving increased salaries, which will lessen the teaching quality since teachers will have to prepare more in less time. And as in England some compulsory school subjects will become optional from year 11 or 12, like History and Geography.
This is all part of a more general plan that the government has of withdrawing from their responsibilities towards its people, for the benefit of their friends in big businesses. They have already privatised the electricity and gas companies and they want to do the same with the postal service and the transportation of goods by train. They would rather save money on things that would benefit the people and spend it on sending more troops to Afghanistan, or helping their friends in the banks and big businesses who are suffering in the financial crisis.
Fortunately, French people are waking up again: before the teachers the SNCF (The French National Train Company)went on strike, and this Saturday it was the post offices’ turn. The country is stirring once again… let’s keep up the fight.