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Thursday, October 7, 1999 Published at 18:25 GMT 19:25 UK


French students demand better schools

Students in Nice say promises have not been kept

An estimated 100,000 French secondary school students have been involved in demonstrations about poor facilities and a shortage of teachers.

There were reports of well over a hundred separate demos in major cities from Rouen in the west to Marseilles in the south, Strasbourg in the east and Lille in the north.

[ image: Police in Paris frisk a protester]
Police in Paris frisk a protester
Most of the protests were noisy but good-natured. But in Paris some shop windows were smashed and parked cars were damaged - although police had banned people from parking vehicles along the route to be taken.

One person was injured trying to stop an attack, French radio reported, and police arrested 32 people.

A week earlier, more than 150,000 students walked out of class to stage similar demonstrations.


But student leaders said that the protest in Paris was much bigger this time, with between 7,000 and 10,000 youngsters on the streets.

[ image: Toulouse: Most of the marches were peaceful]
Toulouse: Most of the marches were peaceful
A year ago, a series of increasingly angry demonstrations resulted in a promise from the Education Minister, Claude Allegre, to provide more teachers, reduce class sizes and improve school facilities.

The students say it has not come about.

"It is time the minister gave us answers and stopped denying the student movement," said Jean Durouvray, vice-president of the National Student Union (UNL).

"The students have waited too long in the past, and it is normal for them to be impatient, but I am asking them not to be too impatient," Mr Allegre told parliament.

"Everything has been done to ensure our pledges will be kept, and they should now go back to their schools to study and prepare for their exams."

But Olivier Jean, head of the Independent and Democratic Student Federation (FIDL), said the promises had been kept in name only.

"Sending us young volunteers and contract workers -- they don't count as qualified personnel," he said.

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