Between 3,000 and 5,000 teachers went on strike on Thursday against the planned reforms to the Francophone education system.
Taking to the streets of Brussels from 09:00 onwards, teachers marched in protest against the new reforms being pushed by Caroline Désir (PS), the Francophone Minister for Education.
During the strike action, one primary school teacher told Belga News Agency that “we are being killed administratively,” while another accused Désir of “making up new rules.”
The protest started at Brussels South Station (Midi/Zuid) with teachers and representative trade unions hoping to reach the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s headquarters by mid-day.
However, there were some internal tensions between the organising unions, with the Christian trade union CSC opting to commence their strike at Brussels Central Station at 11:00 instead. All striking teachers came together at 12:00 before finishing their protest at 13:00 in front of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation’s offices.
Protestors also passed by the French-speaking socialist and liberal parties' offices, PS and MR respectively – both in the French Community Government. Outside MR’s headquarters, a large banner was unveiled which accused the party of “defending crowded classrooms."
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This is the fifth strike action on behalf of teaching staff in over a year, as they have grown frustrated with an overload of work amidst a growing number of students per class.
These tensions have only been compounded by a planned teacher evaluation, which has been on the table for a couple of years. If approved, this would see teachers subject to a planned meeting with authorities who would assess their performance.
These proposed measures had drawn the ire of teachers who also complained about the lack of resources being put into schools’ PMS centres, which offer psychological and social help to students.