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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK

World: Europe

French minister 'to appease' angry students

A youth is arrested during the students' demonstration on Tuesday

France's education minister, Claude Allegre, is due to present new proposals for spending on education, following a series of nationwide student demonstrations.

Mr Allegre is expected to announce measures that could go some way to satisfy the students' demands for improved conditions in schools and colleges.

"We must satisfy the students' demands and I believe we will," Mr Allegre told French television ahead of the parliamentary debate on his F345bn ($57bn) education budget.

The BBC's Paris Correspondent, Stephen Jessel, says the proposals should include a reduction in class sizes, the provision of more teaching staff, an improvement of facilities in areas where classrooms and equipment are lacking, and an overhaul of the national curriculum.

The high school student movement first emerged three weeks ago in the south of France and quickly spread throughout the country.

Tens of thousands of students and teachers have joined rallies in all major cities.

[ image: Around 250,000 students joined the demos on Tuesday]
Around 250,000 students joined the demos on Tuesday
Demonstrations on Tuesday, which involved around 250,000 students, were marred by clashes between riot police and what appeared to be organised vandalism.

With French unemployment at more than 11%, students say they stand little chance of graduating or finding jobs after being crammed into overcrowded and dilapidated classrooms with outdated learning facilities.

"We don't simply want more funding and more facilities," Olivia Jean, head of the independent FIDL students' association, told French television.

"The protest goes deeper than that. We want all pupils to be able to graduate, we want an end to inequality in schools, to a two-speed education system."

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