Six students were detained by police as around at least 300 protesters marched through the streets of the capital, holding up banners saying: “The rebellious generation says no!”
Although the demonstration was generally peaceful, some minor tussles broke out with shoving and kicking as a few of the protesters attempted to deviate from the planned route, which started in Piazzale Ostiense and led to the Education Ministry in Viale Trastevere, and tried to enter Viale Aventino. There they were subsequently repelled by police. Video footage also shows flares and smoke bombs going off, and police report seizing 10 Plexiglas shields.
“We wanted to once again reiterate our rejection of the government’s approach to education, starting by looking at the damage caused by Good School,” the La Stampa newspaper quoted Francesca Picci, coordinator of the Students Union, as saying. “We are no longer willing to accept votes of confidence and on our future.”
Upon reaching the Education Ministry, protesters left boxes of bananas, with messages saying: “After [Law] 107, we are the fruit,” and“That’s enough! We decide! We vote no, power to the people!” The students were also against the planned constitutional referendum in December and contentious INVALSI tests. Communist and “Refugees Welcome” banners could also be seen in the background of video footage.
The scene in Rome was only a snapshot of what was going on across the nation as over a 100,000 students took to the streets across more than 50 cities, including Turin, Naples, Bologna, and Milan, in protest at Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s controversial “Good School” reforms, also known as Law 107. Palermo saw the largest demonstration, where over 5,000 students blocked roads and disrupted traffic, while in Bologna around 100 students launched balloons filled with red paint at government buildings.
Law 107 was passed in July 2015 and was aimed at reinvigorating the Italian school system. However, protesters claim that the government has failed to live up to its promises, cutting the budget and giving greater powers to headmasters. According to Giuseppe Brescia, an MP and member of the educational committee in the 5 Star Movement, the problem is threefold.
“First of all, the government did not solve the situation of the [teachers] of the school,” Brescia told RT. “In fact, a lot of them are temporary workers and this is not good for the continuity of teaching. After the reforms, most of these [teachers] are still temporary workers.”
“Then, the government has given too many powers to the directors of the schools, but without any form of control. This action in Italy is very dangerous because of the corruption. In a nation that suffers as much from the problem of corruption as Italy, it’s stupid to give so much power to a single person. Unfortunately, this is what would happen with the government reform.”
“And the last but not the least, maybe the most important problem is about the money. All the past governments have taken out resources from the school system, so in Italy families have to give some money to the school managers in order to buy the basic things, or to repair the structure of the school because in Italy we have the schools in very old buildings. That’s why the students are furious at the government.”
Brescia added that he hoped the students would continue their peaceful protest so that their voices will be heard.
Tags: 5-Star Movement, anti-establishment, Bologna, Brescia, corruption in Italy, education, Five Star Movement, Francesca Picci, Good School policy, government reform, immigration, Italian school system, Italy, Law 107, Matteo Renzi, migrants, migration, Naples, Palermo, Power to the people, refugees, Rome, student protests, student protests in Italy, Students Union