Spain students protest cuts

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Samavesh Tiwari
Date  24/10/2014
Thousands of Spaniards have poured into the streets across the country to voice anger at the government`s spending cuts, higher university tuition fees and other education reforms.

The chanting protesters, mainly students and teachers, held demonstrations in the capital, Madrid, as well as 16 other cities on Thursday, which marked the last day of a three-day strike by university students.

According to the national Students` Union, which organized the rallies and strike, tuition fees have risen by 50 percent since the conservative Popular Party (PP) came to power three years ago.

The rise has led to a dramatic drop in the number of students because they cannot afford to study, the union said, adding that the government has also slashed spending on public education by around seven billion euros ($9 billion) and dismissed around 32,000 teachers.

“Youths have had enough of the PP`s classist policies,” the Students` Union secretary general, Ana Garcia, said at the march in Madrid. She also described Spain’s Education Minister Jose Ignacio Wert as “a nightmare” and urged him to step down.

The new reforms, which have toughened academic requirements to access university study grants, also require university students to take tests at the end of every academic year to earn re-entry.

Coming out of a six-year slump in 2014, Spain seeks to lower its deficit to 5.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at year-end. The country is also trying to reduce its public shortfall to within an EU limit of 3.0 percent of GDP by 2016.

The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has increased taxes, frozen public salaries and limited spending on services such as education and healthcare.

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