Almost 1,000 parents, students, teachers and support staff from across the Vega Baja gathered in Torrevieja’s Plaza of the Constitution to protest against the education cuts being carried out by the Generalitat.
The previous week, school children from all around the Vega Baja returned home from school with letters from the parent-teacher association, AMPA, highlighting the problems facing each school.
In Torrevieja, one of the city’s oldest schools told children that the school’s bank account contained €80, to keep them going until the end of the month.
Ana María Jara García and Juana Galiano Jurado, mothers and representatives for AMPA at Torrevieja’s Virgen del Carmen protested along with their families and pointed out a few of the problems facing the city’s smallest school, which stem from not receiving any funding after April 2011.
They said “some schools do not have any heat, electricity, money to pay cleaners or for maintenance while we still have problems with cracks in the walls on the first floor of our school!”
Antonio Lopez added “Teachers have had to take a reduction in pay, the number of teachers per school and substitute teachers have been cut and children that have opted out of classes such as religion and Valenciano, are mainly left to themselves, rather than attending classes in computers or being allowed to use them for homework or study time!”
Ana María Jara García continued “every child has a basic right to education and we have 40,000 people ready to protest, with the next demonstration provisionally planned in Valencia City on Thursday, January 26.”
Antonio Lopez added “we have every age group here and more than 100 different nationalities, all showing their unity and the importance we parents place on the education of our children.”
Torrevieja’s mayor and many members of the municipal government missed the protest as they were representing the city at FITUR in Madrid.
The protestors are demanding that money be better allocated from the public funds, with less spent on loss making enterprises such as the Formula One European Grand Prix and other minor events such as the Volvo Ocean Race.
Lopez continued “many think that more funding should be spent on education, which is for life, and not on elitist sports that attract spectators for just one or two weekends each year!”
Five local unions have called for one day strike action and for teachers to wear black armbands in support of the protests. 50,000
HIT THE STREETS
ALICANTE city witnessed a multitudinous demonstration as 50,000 pupils, teachers and parents protested against education spending cuts.
Maintenance costs for schools and secondary schools have not been paid since April last year and the Valencian Community’s three provinces are hard-hit by the regional government’s lack of cash.
The regional government’s debt to the approximately 400 schools affected is around €33 million, according to Spanish daily El Pais.
As families from the Marina Alta down to the Vega Baja converged on Alicante, the city centre came to a standstill.
It was the biggest rally since the protests against the Iraq war in 2003 and the 11-M Madrid bombings in 2004, police said later.
By Keith Nicol