Image: French students protest
Lucas Dolega  /  EPA
Students show banners and shout slogans during a demonstration in Paris against education reforms and reduction of teaching positions in high schools.
updated 4/3/2008 6:53:55 PM ET 2008-04-03T22:53:55

French protesters hurled bottles and stones at riot police who responded with tear gas Thursday during a march by high school students in Paris over teacher job cuts.

Thousands of peaceful demonstrators headed out from the Luxembourg Gardens for a march when a few hundred broke off and tried to attack storefronts along the march route.

Police charged in response, detaining several protesters. Other demonstrators then began throwing sticks, bottles, stones and other projectiles at a line of police throughout the march. Officers responded with tear gas and a series of charges to round up more suspects.

A total of 13 people were detained, police said. No injuries were reported.

The youths involved in the clashes, some wearing hoods or scarves over their faces, made up only a small portion of those who took part.

The march, accompanied by techno music recordings and colorful banners, ended calmly.

It was one of several demonstrations throughout France on Thursday by high school students protesting a government plan to cut thousands of educational positions for the next school year, part of a broader attempt by President Nicolas Sarkozy to cut costs and bureaucracy.

Government not backing down
The students marched in solidarity with their teachers and against what they perceive as a threat to quality education. They also fear that Sarkozy's overall reforms will erode the social and labor protections that underpin French society and that their parents and grandparents took for granted.

"Studying is a Right" read one banner designed to look a small blackboard. "When teachers cough, the students catch a cold," read another.

Education Minister Xavier Darcos said the government would not back down.

"We must reform schools instead of considering that we must always increase funding," he said in a Senate session.

Thursday's was the third protest in Paris in the past week over the planned teacher cuts.

About 100 high schools around the country were disrupted by Thursday's protests, according to the national high school students' union UNL.

High school students also joined a nationwide protest movement in 2006 over a jobs law that would have made it easier to hire — and fire — young workers. The government, under then-President Jacques Chirac, withdrew the contested part of the law amid the protests, which saw Paris' Sorbonne and other universities shut down for weeks.

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