Italian Students Protest against Education Cuts


Italian students are on war path protesting against education reforms planned as part of wider austerity measures. Tens of thousands of students marched in cities all over Italy on November 24. Students were organised in more than 50 cities. They occupied premises of 44 universities out of 66 government funded universities. Their protests included picketing, suspending classes and climbing on top of faculty buildings, administrative buildings and buildings of tourist attractions.

In Rome, the student protestors formed a human chain around the ancient Leaning Tower of PisaStudent protests in Florence, Italy and the Colosseum. About 2,000 students marched through the city surrounding the Pisa tower to prevent tourists from visiting the tower, BBC reported. They climbed to the top tire of the tower to hang a banner. They even tried to enter Parliament building. Teachers and Researchers also joined protests extending their support.

Hundreds of student chanted slogans and with banners and red smoking flares nearby the Parliament where the discussions were taking place on education reforms. Students pledged they would not allow passing the educations cuts in the Parliament. They threw stones and eggs on official buildings and riot police who blocked them. Some students were arrested and complaints were filed. Protests took place in several cities including Padova, Siena, Florence, Turin, Naples, Pavia, Perugia, Palemo and Saierno.

The proposed educations reforms are called Geimini Reforms named after Maria Stella Geimini, Minister of Education. The reforms aimed to decrease funds allocated to public education drastically. The reductions in funds allocation would lead to massive layoffs and reduced education programmes. Around nine billion euro cuts are proposed in the reforms bill. Nearly, 130,000 jobs will be lost from the educations system.

The attack on education spending became a regular phenomenon nowadays after the worst financial crisis. In the US, several states are cutting down education allocations, reducing teaching staff and increasing tuition fee saying they lack funds and not receiving funds from the federal governments. Students and teaching staff are increasingly joining protests in the state run universities in the US.

In the UK also, the government is resorting to massive cuts in funds allocations to education sector. The governments around the Europe and North America are backing away from their responsibilities towards providing education to their people. They cracking down on student protests and resorting to repressive measures. Dozens of student protests are arrested in the UK.

Italy is believed to be next country after the Spain with massive debt. Portugal, Spain and Italy are facing increasing pressures from the markets after Irish bailout. Some are speculating even break up of Eurozone as poorer countries are pressurised to implement austerity measures that would negatively affect growth rates of those countries. Market pressures are forcing the most indebted countries to opt for bailout from the EU and IMF that would place further debt burden on those countries.

As the bailout is followed by tough austerity measures, growth rates are prone to fall due to spending cuts. Such situation is again leading the investors to lose confidence on those economies. This is becoming a vicious circle for indebted countries. This will not stop with indebt countries. Decreasing confidence in weaker Eurozone countries is pulling down the Euro value, triggering volatility in Euro value. Such an eventuality will influence strong nations such as Germany and France.

Moreover, Germans are fiercely opposing the bailout packages for which they are subjected to contribute the major share. That is putting pressure on German government. As a result, Germany and France reached an agreement recently, which says private bond holders would have to share bailout burden along with tax payers.

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