Portuguese teachers boycott exams in anti-austerity strike

Thousands of teachers across Portugal walked away from final exams held at secondary schools on Monday to protest against planned spending cuts in education, leaving many pupils unable to take the tests, unions said. This is from Reuters…

The cuts are among the most recent austerity measures proposed by Portugal’s centre-right administration to meet the fiscal targets of an EU/IMF bailout. Portugal is in the third year of its worst economic recession since the 1970s and unemployment is at a record 18 percent.

Anti-austerity protests have been largely peaceful and more subdued than those in Greece and neighbouring Spain but the country has seen a rise in rallies and strikes in recent months.

After talks with the teachers’ unions collapsed over the weekend, the education ministry deployed replacement teachers to help invigilate and some schools bundled classes together in gyms or canteens so that the exams could go ahead.

Many pupils were unable to take the tests but in some schools they chanted and waved placards with slogans of solidarity for their striking teachers.

Mario Nogueira, the head of 52,000-strong Fenprof teachers’ union, said 90 percent of teachers took part in the strike and that some schools had cancelled Monday’s exam. There are around 100,000 teachers in Portugal’s state education system.

The education ministry said the strike affected less than a third of all pupils and rescheduled their exams for July 2.

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