Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Le grève! (Strike!)

Ever since I've arrived in the South of France, there has been a lot of talk about le grève (grev). The public transportation workers were on strike, then they were on strike again. Then some of the professors told me they weren't going to be in class because they were striking on Tuesday (today). At first I thought they were striking for teacher reasons, boy was I wrong. After my third class, I was walking thru a hall with an open window. The professor I was walking with mentioned the chanting of the strike, again I'm thinking "teachers... wow that's loud." I get out of the building to grab lunch since I have 3 hours before my next class in the afternoon. Here is what I come out to. 

There is no way to describe how many people were striking except that they filled the major streets. It was insane. They were striking because the French government is raising the age for retirement. Not only were teachers striking, transportation workers were striking, also lycéens (highschool students) were striking. The French love their strikes and they do it joyfully. They strike as much as there are national holidays ;-)

I'm learning more about the french education system and it's more complicated than any school system in the States. In a nutshell, the students until age 15 are in "General" education then they choose a tract. Science or Literature (broadly defined) which they will study until they are 18, then at the end of school they take the BAC, either Sci. or Lit. Students taking the science route will have more job options. If they pass the BAC Science, they move on to University where they will have many more options for "majors." And at that age how many people really know what they want to do? Ok, at this point you may be wondering, "and how does this relate to the strike?" Well, the students who are moving on to higher education will end up working a little later in life, and therefore retiring later. You need a certain number of trimesters of work and be at least a certain age to retire (or something like that). The more highly educated students, with this new law, won't be eligible for reitrement until age 70. So, the lycéens participated in the strike as well. Bravo for the youngins for participating in this big event.  Anyway, thanks for reading thru my stream of consciousness.

Again, my camera battery died so I only got these few photos. Either way it's good to have a handy dandy point and shoot in my purse at all times.

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