At least 20 teenagers were arrested on Friday as thousands of school pupils across the country left their classrooms to join a spontaneous protest about school hours.
Word about the demonstrations – against the official 1,040 hours of lessons a year – was spread using MSN and email.
In Middelburg, where at least six arrests were made, police used batons to restore order. ‘The demonstration began peacefully but got out of hand and we had to intervene,’ a police spokesman said.
Three pupils were arrested in Raamsdonksveer in Noord-Brabant for vandalising a bus. In Eindhoven there were at least two arrests for throwing eggs and fireworks and in Purmerend around 200 pupils blocked roads and threw eggs at police.
In Amsterdam over a thousand pupils from most of the city centre schools gathered on the Museumplein. News agency ANP said several cars were damaged. Giant chess pieces from the Max Euweplein were thrown at trams and into shops.
‘Now we have to have 1,040 hours of lessons a year schools are coming up with all sorts of fake lessons to fill in the time,’ said one 14-year-old protestor in Amsterdam.
Teachers unions say they are unhappy with the protests but support the pupils’ cause.
Government efforts to make sure schools meet the 1,040 hour legal obligation has led to ‘panic football’ in schools, a spokesman said. Ministers have said they will fine schools that don’t hit the target.
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