Quebec Student Strikes Rumbles On
Topic : Education News
Planned tuition hikes in Quebec have taken an ugly turn, with increasingly violent students protests occurring across the province.
The protests began last Friday (Feb 17th), when an estimated 31,000 students, from both colleges and universities in La Belle Province, deserted classrooms and went on strikeÂ against an increase to tuition fees. Though the number currently involved is rather impressive, it’s been noted in reports that it actually represents less than 10 per cent of the Quebec student population (this figure, however, is expected to grow slightly).
The protests are part of an active campaign against the provincial government, led by premiere Jean Charest, who are doubling tuition over the next five years: from $2,200 toÂ $3,800, or roughly, a $300 increase per student per year. It should be noted, though, that even with this increase, Quebec would still haveÂ some of the lowest tuition fees in Canada.
Currently, the average annual tuition at a Quebec university is $2,519, which is lower than any other province. This doesn’t really make a difference to protesting students, who feel that the increase will only restrict access to education, which they feel is a right.
The student group leading the protests is hoping that they can increase pressure on the government and get Jean Charest to rethink his decision.Â “In just one week, the strike has more than tripled,” said Jeanne Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the CLASSE coalition.
“The (government) now has no choice but to take our strike seriously. If it does not (act) quickly, the Quebec education system will paralyzed even more.”
Hurting, their cause, however, is an increasingly violent dimension to the protests.Â First, studentsÂ smashed furniture and windows on the CEGEP du Vieux Montreal community college. Police made 35 arrests in connection to that outbreak. Elsewhere, demonstrators blockedÂ Montreal’s Exchange tower, keeping employees out. Police promptly blasted the crowd with pepper spray and arrested four people. Good times.
What do you think about the Quebec student protests?