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Teachers and students strike in Spain over spending cuts

Teachers and students from every level of Spain's education system went on strike Tuesday to protest wide-ranging government spending cuts.

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In a similar event in 2011, teachers demonstrated in Madrid to protest education spending cuts at a time when Spanish regions are under pressure to shore up their finances. Unions said between 70 and 80 percent of the region's 21,000 high school teachers joined the strike. (Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

Teachers and students from every level of Spain's education system went on strike Tuesday to protest wide-ranging government spending cuts, said the Associated Press.

Union officials reported that 80 percent of the country's teachers took part. All but three of Spain's 17 regions participated in the strike, the biggest in a series of strikes so far this year that had until now been scattered around the country. 

According to Reuters, the central government has ordered Spain's 17 autonomous regions to cut 3 billion euros (3.84 billion dollars) from education spending this year as part of a program to trim the public deficit to an EU-agreed level of 5.3 percent of gross domestic product.

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Begonia Sanchez, a long-time school teacher told Reuters, "This strike is necessary because we have to tell everyone what it means to cut spending in a country where education is not as good as in other countries."

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Spain's high school graduation rate (the percentage of students who complete secondary education) is 74 percent compared with an 85 percent average in the European Union.

Several more events around the country are planned for the protest including an evening march in Madrid. 

The BBC reported, with the cuts teachers will see class sizes increase, they will have to work more hours for the same pay and university tuition fees will increase by up to 25 percent.

Voro Benavent, spokesman for the Teaching Workers Union said, ""Quality public education is in danger of dying. They are sacrificing our youths' learning because of the crisis." 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/spain/120522/teachers-and-students-strike-spain-over-spending-cuts