French overseas schools urged to strike over cuts

AFP , Sunday 26 Nov 2017

France's biggest secondary teachers' union has called for strikes on Monday at 500 French schools in foreign countries in protest at planned cuts to budgets and staffing.

The SNES-FSU union is demanding the government row back on the "scandalous" cut to schools' funding in its revised 2017 budget, saying 500 teaching jobs are on the line.

The union estimated the cuts at 33 million euros ($39 million) and said the funds allocated in the 2018 budget also fall short of their needs.

France runs 492 schools in 137 countries beyond its borders. They cater for around 350,000 students -- 40 percent French, many of them children of expatriates, and 60 percent foreign.

The lycées, or high schools, are particularly seen as a key part of France's soft power, on a par with Alliance Francaise, the country's global network of cultural centres.

The strike aims to coincide with a meeting of the state agency in charge of the schools to discuss next year's budget.

The agency falls under the responsibility of the foreign ministry, which declined to comment on the call for teachers to walk off the job.

President Emmanuel Macron's centrist government is on a drive to cut spending and bring France's budget deficit within EU limits.

Spending is set to fall by 15 billion euros in 2018.

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