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Italian students protest austerity education cuts in Rome


Demonstrators march during a protest on a day of mobilisation against austerity measures by workers in southern Europe on November 14, 2012 in Rome. Riot police and anti-austerity protesters clashed in Italy on Wednesday as anger boiled over on a Europe-wide day of strikes and mass demonstrations.


Filippo Monteforte

Italian students took to the streets in Rome on Saturday to protest austerity measures that have cut into education funding.

Several thousand students and teachers marched through the Italian capital to protest Prime Minister Mario Monti's sharp spending cuts and tax hikes, Reuters reported.

Other protests were planned for Rome later on Saturday, including a rally by a far-right Monti-opposition group and a march by an anti-fascist organization. 

The protests went on without authorization from police, who had a high security alert on in Rome in case the protests turned violent, as happened during protests earlier this month, Euronews reported

"We need to fight for our rights," student protester Tommaso Bernardi told Al Jazeera. This government doesn't represent us and these austerity measures and all the cuts they've introduced are totally anti-democratic." 

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Michele Orezzi, a university union co-coordinator, said that Italy's education system is "crumbling into pieces." 

Teachers and student unions also expressed their concerns about a bill being debated in parliament which would allow educational institutions to bid on private funding, according to Euronews.

Italy, like many other Eurozone members, fell into recession in 2011, and the Monti government has put in place serious austerity measures to bring the country out of debt, Agence France Presse reported

Italy's lower house of parliament approved the budget measures on Thursday which included cuts to the education sector. 

Students and educators argue, however, that schools need more support now than ever, as youth unemployment in Rome stands at about 35 percent, over three times the national average, according to Reuters.