Spanish students protest crisis cutbacks

Thousands of Spanish students marched through Madrid on Wednesday to protest budget cuts they say are threatening their education in the economic crisis.

The national students' union says the government has cut five billion euros ($6.8 billion) from spending on schools and universities as it fights to stabilise the public finances.

"In my university we have spent the winter months without heating and with far more students in each class, which harms their quality," said one protester in Wednesday's demonstration, 19-year-old Javier Marin.

Students launched three days of strikes on Tuesday.

On Wednesday several thousand of them marched yelling through central Madrid, many wearing macabre white and black face paint, waving signs with slogans such as "For sale: Public education."

The students' union called on teachers to join in the third day on Thursday.

Like protesters in various sectors, their anger has been sharpened by money being allocated to bail out banks and by recent reports of government corruption.

"There are savage cuts in public education," the leader of the students' union Tohil Delgado told AFP.

"Since May the government has robbed five billion euros from state schools and has handed it to the banks and companies responsible for this crisis. It is a scandal."

University fees have been raised by half in some regions.

"I don't know whether I will go to university," said one of the Madrid demonstrators, Lucia Moya, 16.

"My sister is already there and at these prices I don't know whether my family can afford to pay for two courses at the same time."

The recession in Spain has driven the unemployment rate among the under-25s above 50 percent.