Over one hundred high schools across France have been blocked or otherwise disrupted, with a fire seriously damaging one school in Toulouse, as students protest education reforms.
Student protests continued Tuesday following action that broke out nationwide at 188 schools on Monday in solidarity with the Yellow Vest movement against Macron’s fuel carbon tax and other reforms.
Students and high school unions have called for the abandonment of changes to the French high school qualification, the baccalaureate, and other measures introduced for entry to university.
“We have our own reasons for striking, but the anger comes from the same source as the Yellow Vests. The government has made destructive reforms. It is worth mobilising with them, ” Louis Boyard, head of the UNL high school union, told Agence France-Presse (AFP), and called to block “all high schools” Friday.
France Soir reports that the worst affected areas are in Versailles (30 schools, 8 fully blocked), Marseille (23 disturbed, 10 blocked), and Créteil (32 schools, 5 completely blocked).
At least half a dozen schools have been affected by arson, with France 3 Provence-Alps sharing a video report of a fire outside the Victor Hugo high school in Marseille, with youths attacking vehicles and a fire engine attempting to tackle the blaze.
The worst affected appears to be St Exupéry high school in the Blagnac suburb of Toulouse, where a fire started in the foyer damaged a large section of the building.
According to students, the blaze originated from a garbage fire. “We arrived, we saw everything burn, we were completely powerless, we could not intervene,” student Alexander told AFP.
The fire was accompanied by a protest of 2,500 individuals, with police arresting seven, according to Le Figaro.
Police used tear gas to disperse youth protesters outside the Arenes high school in Toulouse.
In the afternoon, hundreds of high school students, 500 according to the police, converged on the centre of Toulouse chanting “Macron resign” and ” young people having a hard time, old people in misery, this is not the society we want.”
Students spoke to French media, expressing their “anguish” with one fearing there is “no future” for young people in France, and that Macron’s education reforms will make it more difficult to progress.
“Entering adult life is a losing battle,” Leila told France 3 Occitanie.
A student at Toulouse’s Arènes high school, Goubert, said she was determined to blockade her school “so that the government can finally hear us.”
“The Yellow Vests have opened the way. We took advantage of the breach, and now nothing will stop us,” she said.
The French government offered Tuesday to suspend controversial hikes in fuel taxes for six month, but members of the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Jacket, movement said that it does not go far enough and the rises should be scrapped altogether.
A young protester, who did not want to be identified, criticised the French president, saying “Macron may finally understand that he can not fuck us over, that we have a voice, that we have things to say, that you cannot play with our future,” before being interrupted and choked by a thick cloud of tear gas.