Sunday Oct 20, 201907:26 AM GMT
Italian students protest education reforms
Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:43PM
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Matthew Stevens, Press TV, Rome

For the second time in less than two weeks, Italy's students have taken to the streets, to voice their opposition to controversial education reforms ahead of the senate vote on them..

"While the controversial school system reform awaits final approval in the Italian Senate, students have vowed to make their protest a peaceful one, but given last week's violent clashes, as you can see, the police have decided to leave nothing to chance."

Students, as well as researchers and teachers, marched through a number of cities across the country. In Rome, they blocked the traffic and chanted slogans against the government, while scenes of clashes with the police were reported in the southern cities of Naples and Palermo.

Students and critics of the reforms say the cuts threaten to strangle the education system and that universities are already severely under-funded. Italy spends less than 5% of its Gross Domestic Product on education , a figure lower than in many developed countries.

But the education minister Mariastella Gelmini who proposed these reforms believes they will save billions , will increase transparency in recruitment, boost efficiency, reward merit , and equip students for employment.

The plan which critics say will eventually lead to the loss of about 130 thousand jobs in the education sector is part of the wider austerity measures adopted by the government to reduce the public debt.

Opposition MPs presented hundreds of amendments to the reform, which will likely have to be presented to the Italian Senate on Thursday.

If the Senate approves the reforms bill, it has to be signed by president Giorgio Napolitano to become law.
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