SEVILLE, Spain — Students, teachers and parents protested Oct. 24 against cuts and reforms to the education system in Spain. The protestors chanted with signs held high as they marched through the streets.
Local residents were protesting the Law to Improve the Quality of Education (LOMCE) that the highly unpopular education minister of Spain, Jose Ignacio Wert, recently proposed. The law would institute harsh cuts to the education system as a whole, including the layoff of tens of thousands of professors along with school budget cuts. A lack of teachers would create an unbalanced student-teacher ratio. Some of these cuts have already begun to take place within the last few years, since the initiative is not new to Spain.
Luis Laplaza is a part-time professor at the University of Seville. Although he did not participate in the strike, he said he feels strongly about the cause.
“One month of protest would better demonstrate to the government just how serious we are,” Laplaza said.
Laplaza decided not to participate in the strike because he did not want to disrespect his superiors. While his literature and cooking class was normally held at the University of Seville, Laplaza opted to change the location of his class the day of the strike. Instead of meeting in the Old Tobacco Factory, the main university building, it took place in a kitchen blocks away from the university.
So far, the protests throughout Spain have drawn large crowds. In Seville and Granada, 20,000 people gathered to protest the education reforms. Barcelona saw an influx of 170,000 protestors and Madrid saw an unprecedented 300,000. The protestors are attempting to defend their right to excellent, free state education. Grammar school through high school is free in Spain, and the usual cost of enrollment in a public university is around 1,000 euros per academic year.
A poster hanging in the University of Seville outlines the strike’s three main points: the approval of LOMCE and its cuts to education, the new decree of scholarships and increase in taxes and the expulsion of teachers and faculty.
Signs advertising the strike were seen across the University of Seville’s campus in the weeks prior to the protests. The popular slogan declared, “Public education of everyone and for everyone.” Students set up tables in the university to promote the strike and general protest.
While Laplaza might support the cause, he said he doesn’t believe one day of protesting will have much of an effect.
“One day of strike and a little protesting doesn’t mean anything for the government,” Laplaza said.