Students protest education cuts in Spain
Thousands of students and teachers marched in Madrid to protest education cuts.
MADRID (AFP) - Thousands of students and teachers marched in Madrid on Thursday protesting crisis budget cuts and layoffs in schools and universities.
"Our education will not pay your debt!" read a banner at the front of the march heading down one of Madrid s main avenues towards the education ministry, to the din of horns and whistles.
The national students union that called the demonstration says Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy s conservative government has cut five billion euros ($6.5 billion) from public education budgets in the past year.
The government says the measures, part of major savings measures imposed last year, are needed to stabilise Spain s public finances.
"They are privatising the universities and raising fees, cutting research and putting more students in each class," complained one demonstrator in Madrid, Jorge Barrio, a 20-year-old topography student.
"The only option I see is to go and work or study abroad."
The union said in a statement that university fees have been raised by up to two thirds and 80,000 teachers had been laid off.
A typical annual university fee has risen from around 1,000 to 1,500 euros -- a relatively big hike in Spain s state-funded education system.
The recession in Spain has driven the unemployment rate among the under-25s above 50 percent.