Protesters halt merit scheme

4th February 2000 at 00:00
ITALY'S plan to create a new class of "superteachers" has been suspended after a massive teacher protest.

Just weeks before the exam to select a fifth of the profession as advanced skills teachers, and reward them with a pound;2,000 rise, the ministry has agreed to review the selection procedure.

The merit rewards were initially welcomed by unions. But as the selection criteria became clearer, opposition began to grow.

Superteacher status was to be available only to staff with 1 years' service who passed a test and successfully taught a demonstration lesson, or discussed a lesson plan.

At the end of January several dozen teachers staged a sit-in at the education ministry and had to be ejected by police. There had been calls for a national strike on February 17.

Education minister Luigi Berlinguer said the government still intends to reward excellence,but has promised a revised selection process by the end of the month.

Opinion, page 19

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