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More strike warnings as suburb fights for resources

FRANCE. Teachers, parents and pupils from schools in Seine-Saint-Denis, France's poorest departement, last week held their seventh demonstration in a month to demand more resources to fight against school failure.

Their action began the same week that education minister Claude All`egre announced emergency remedial measures for the area (TES, March 13).

But they said his promise of more teachers and support staff, and educational priority status for more schools, was not enough.

The emergency plan came after an inquiry found the departement's overwhelmingly young, immigrant, overcrowded population was disproportionately unskilled, and badly paid or unemployed. Crime, violence and school failure were high.

Extra school nurses, social workers and supervisors were employed in November, in a government campaign against school violence . But in January some schools started striking against rising vandalism and lack of security and resources.

Although local councillors welcomed the emergency plan, teachers rejected it and gave strike notice, supported by parents.

Some 60 schools have been affected by strikes with the movement spreading to primary schools. More than 10,000 turned out at the fifth Paris demonstration.

Early this month education officers and councillors met with unions, offering 70 new secondary teachers' posts, and 40 primary, plus more non-teaching staff.

School inspections and maximum class sizes of 18 for difficult pupils, plus more flexible timetables have been proposed.

But some schools have remained on strike with warnings of more action to come in the new term.

Jane Marshall

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