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Why are teachers across France on strike?

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Why are teachers across France on strike?
Illustration photo: Teachers protesting in Marseille, AFP
13:06 CET+01:00
For the first time since 2011 all of France's teachers unions have called on their members to take part in a strike on Monday. So, why exactly are the country's educators so angry?
The strike could see schools, colleges and high schools disrupted across France. 
 
On top of the call from unions for teachers to down tools, demonstrations have been planned in major cities, including in the French capital where a protest is set to begin at 2 pm.
 
So, why are France's teachers taking to the streets?
 
Well, on Tuesday November 13th the 2019 budget, including national education, is set to be debated in French parliament, with one of the proposals being to cut 2,650 jobs in colleges and secondary schools
 
The posts set to be cut include teaching positions as well as administrative roles, France's Education Minister France's Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer had previously announced. 
 
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Why is France getting rid of hundreds of teachers?
Photo: AFP
 
The announcement was greeted with shock and anger by many who had presumed that education was a priority for President Emmanuel Macron.
 
They presumed the president's landmark reform to cut primary class sizes in disadvantaged areas would mean more teachers, not less.
 
As a result, the FSU, CFDT and Unsa unions representing both primary schools and high schools had called for a strike in the public and private sectors, to demand the cancellation of these job cuts. 
 
The staff "do not understand" the cuts being made given the expected population growth in middle and high schools, Catherine Nave-Bekhti, general secretary of Sgen-CFDT union told the French press on Monday.
 
A study by the Ministry of Education linked body DEPP (Direction of Evaluation, forecasting and performance) predicted an increase of 40,000 students each year between 2019 and 2021.
 
Who will be affected?
 
The job cuts will not only affect teachers but also those in administrative roles in the country's education system, according to the minister.
 
Of the positions set to be axed "at least 400" are administrative positions such as school nurses and doctors and secretaries.
 
Only secondary schools and colleges will be affected primary schools won't be touched by the cuts. 
 
In fact, the proposals include the creation of 1,800 jobs in primary schools. 
 
French pupils protest English exam for being too hard
Photo: AFP
 
Why are the cuts being made?
 
Essentially the cuts are part of the government's plan to reduce the number of public service workers. While Macron made an election promise of cutting 120,000 public service workers over five years in reality things won't be so dramatic.
 
Earlier this month the PM Edouard Philippe announced there would be 4,500 posts cut in 2019 and another 10,000 in 2020.
 
And clearly the teaching profession won't be spared these cuts.
 
The fact the job cuts will only impact secondary schools and administrative posts also shows how Macron is favouring primary school education, were his reform to cut class size to 12 pupils in certain areas and certain year groups puts a strain on budgets.
 
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