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Teachers begin 5-day strike with earlier start of academic year as trigger point

Demands also include removal of new curriculum, and higher expenditure on education as 22,000 protest in rally

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15 March 2022 11:03 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Teachers across Catalonia began a 5-day strike on Tuesday to protest against the policies of the education department, led by education minister Josep González-Cambray, who was appointed by the pro-independence Esquerra party.

In a rare show of unity, seven unions with a significant influence in schools called the protest for March 15, 16, 17, 29 and 30, and a mass demonstration in Barcelona center was held to support it. According to the local police, 22,000 people took to the streets on Diagonal Avenue. 

USTEC, CCOO, Intersindical, Professors de Secundària (Aspepc-sps), UGT, CGT, and the education branch of USOC support the move and say that at no point in the past 30 years has a strike been called for so many days. 

Unions said that 60% of staff in primary schools took part in the strike, and 75% in secondary schools, but the education ministry has said that participation was significantly lower, at 31% and 8.7% respectively. 

The protest has been triggered by the new academic calendar, with part of the education sector against starting the next school year earlier than usual.

The Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, announced on February 10 that the 2022-2023 academic year would begin on September 5 for pre-school and primary school students and on September 7 for those in secondary school, Batxillerat pre-university programs, and professional training courses. This change affects public, semi-private, and private schools. Courses would start on September 12 as usual if no changes had been announced.

Other demands also include calling for more investment in the sector after the budget cuts in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and the consolidation of temporary workers, as well as the removal of the new curriculum announced. 

On March 23, another stoppage has been called in order to protest against the Spanish judiciary's attempts to put an end to Catalan as the sole working language in schools and introduce a 25% Spanish quota.

22,000 protest in Barcelona

Around 22,000 people marched in Barcelona from 11.30am on Tuesday to show their support for the strike. 

The rally began at the city's Jardinets de Gràcia, continued along Diagonal Avenue cutting off traffic, and marched towards the education ministry headquarters in Via Augusta. 

Many chants demanding for González-Cambray to step down were heard, as well as a lot of horns, whistles and sirens. 

Posters and flyers calling on the government to improve education and to jump from public spending of 3.6% to 6% of Catalonia's GDP were distributed. 

The demonstration saw colorful flags from the different unions, and not only teachers, but also parents with their children. 

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  • Institut Escola Trinitat Nova in Barcelona, with a sign reading 'Don't forget about our education, we want more attention' to mark the strike, on March 15, 2022 (by Laura Fíguls)

  • Institut Escola Trinitat Nova in Barcelona, with a sign reading 'Don't forget about our education, we want more attention' to mark the strike, on March 15, 2022 (by Laura Fíguls)

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