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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK

World: Europe

Extra teachers and money for French schools

Mr Allegre's announcement in Parliament reflected Mr Jospin's (left) government sympathy for the students' cause

The French government has announced a series of measures to improve conditions in schools following three weeks of nationwide protests by students.

BBC's Stephen Jessel: "There's been a general welcome for the measures"
The measures include a $700m programme to refurbish dilapidated school buildings and the recruitment of 14,000 extra non-teaching staff to meet student concerns over deteriorating security in schools.

The government has also promised to reduce class sizes and to give students a bigger say in decision-making.

The BBC Paris Correspondent, Stephen Jessel says the campaign by hundreds of thousands of teenage students has won substantial concessions from the French government, which had always said that it sympathised with their cause.

'Immediate measures'

The French Education Minister Claude Allegre announces more staff for schools, to increase security (in French)
France's education minister, Claude Allegre, acknowledged in the National Assembly that "high school students have clearly said they want rapid reforms" and said his government "is taking immediate measures regarding quantity and quality."

Student representatives said they would resume protests if they saw no sign of change.

Two of the main teachers' unions said the measures were positive but insufficient.

The Federation of National Education called on the minister to "go further" while the Teachers' Union asked for additional funds for the education budget.

A 'two-speed education system'

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stand little chance of graduating or finding jobs after being crammed into overcrowded and dilapidated classrooms with outdated learning facilities.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, [an end] to a two-speed education system."

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