Tens of thousands of pupils and teachers marched through Rome today in protest at government-backed changes to Italy’s school system.
The demonstration was held a day after the reforms were approved by parliament.
They include failing pupils for bad conduct, giving elementary students the same teacher for all five grades and requiring students to wear uniform smocks.
Critics say the reforms will reduce educational standards across Italy, with the one-teacher rule also causing redundancies.
Students have been staging protests for days against the school reforms and other changes proposed by Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government.
Today’s one-day strike called by unions closed elementary, middle and high schools across Italy, and thousands of people travelled to Rome by bus or train to join the demonstration. Police in riot gear were on hand in a central Rome piazza where the demonstrators gathered, waved flags and chanted slogans.
Similar demonstrations were held in other cities.
In Milan, students outside the Stock Exchange shouted that they did not want to be the ones paying for the financial crisis.
In Florence 100 students briefly occupied the tracks at a railway station, causing trains to be rerouted.