Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Student protests disrupt Italian roads, railways

An Italian student shouts slogans during a protest against various budget cuts the government has implemented, in Rome November 30, 2010.
REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

ROME (Reuters) – Students marched through Italian cities on Tuesday in protest against education reforms, blocking roads and railway lines in some of the biggest demonstrations seen in decades.
The students, who last week occupied tourist sites around the country including the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum, have vowed to block proposed changes by Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini.
The reforms -- which include spending cuts and set time limits on research -- were approved by the lower house of parliament on Tuesday and now move to the Senate for approval.
Thousands of students streamed through central Rome, chanting and waving banners bearing slogans such as "education is on its knees" and threw eggs, vegetables, bottles and fireworks toward parliament.
They later blocked streets and stormed railway stations and lay down on the tracks, disrupting train services.
Scuffles with police broke out when protesters tried to approach parliament. Similar protests in other cities also led to tension with police.
"We want to see a grass-roots reform, not a reform that stems from the corridors of power," said 24-year-old Tommaso Ricci, a mathematics student at the University of Florence.
The reforms also introduce changes the government says will usher in a more merit-based system, such as capping the term of rectors to six years instead of life-long terms. Read more.By Catherine Hornby

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