Image: French student protesters
French high school students hold banners during a demonstration in Marseille on Thursday against proposed government reforms of the secondary-school curriculum.
updated 12/18/2008 6:14:59 PM ET 2008-12-18T23:14:59

Police arrested 38 people in the French city of Lyon on Thursday when a student protest against education reform turned violent, authorities said.

Education Minister Xavier Darcos promised consultations on the planned reform of the secondary-school curriculum amid government fears that France could experience widespread protests like the ones that have rocked Greece in the past two weeks.

About 150,000 demonstrators across France hit the streets to protest the reforms, which include proposals to cut classroom hours and divide the school year into two semesters, the National Union of Secondary Schools said. Police estimated the nationwide turnout at 127,000.

The majority of marchers were peaceful. In Lyon, however, five police officers were injured in scuffles with about 150 demonstrators who threw rocks, damaged cars, torched garbage cans and smashed bus shelters, the local prefecture said in a statement.

Darcos announced earlier this week that he would postpone his reforms. On Thursday, he went a step further, saying he was ready to re-examine the proposed changes in their entirety.

"We are going to start all over again, we are going to re-examine the entire proposal together," Darcos announced during question time in the upper house of parliament.

Several thousand students marched nearby waving banners reading: "Priority to education."

Students have promised to continue their protests until the proposal is scrapped.

"The winter will be turbulent if the minister does not listen to us," the National Union of Secondary Schools said in a statement. Its president, Antoine Evennou, told The Associated Press that the union had yet to be contacted by Education Ministry officials for consultations on the reform.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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