Students hold banners and shout slogans during protest on second day of three-day nationwide student strike against education cuts, in Barcelona, Wednesday(Photo: Reuters)
Thousands of high school and university students demonstrated in dozens of cities across Spain Wednesday against government cuts to education spending aimed at slashing the public deficit.
"Bankers' money to public schools!" they chanted as they marched through the streets of Madrid, in a reference to the billions of euros which the government has given Spain's ailing banks even as it cuts social spending.
Many wore the green T-shirts that have become a symbol of their movement against the budget cuts.
In Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city, police said 3,000 students had marched through the streets. Thousands more protested in Valencia and other cities.
The protests were part of a three-day strike by students due to wrap up Thursday with a demonstration in Madrid in which parents and teachers will also take part.
"At my school they fired seven teachers this year and 16 last years," said 16-year-old high school student Sara Diaz at the protest in Madrid.
The spending cuts have swelled class sizes and forced the cancellation of activities such as laboratory experiments which require smaller groups, said Leonor Andres, 50, who accompanied her 14-year-old daughter at the protest in Madrid.
"If we want them to study, it would be logical to increase the means at their disposal," she said.
Protesters also complained that the spending cuts had led to higher university tuition fees.
"Tuition fees have risen sharply. Last year I paid 700 euros and this year it is 1,300 euros," said 21-year-old journalist student Laura Ruiz.
Public spending on education has been reduced by over one billion euros this year compared to 2011 and public schools employed nearly 3,000 fewer teachers during the 2011-12 academic year, according to the education ministry.