Tens of thousands of teachers took to the streets of Lisbon Saturday to protest against education reforms implemented by the Socialist government, among them a new system for assessing their competence.

Unions said that the demonstration, backed by both left wing and right wing opposition parties, drew 120,000 people, or about 80 percent of the teaching profession, according to local press estimates.

A protest in Lisbon in March was attended by 100,000 people.

The teachers were demonstrating against reforms that took effect with the current school year, in particular new procedures for assessments required for promotion.

These take into account results obtained by teachers' pupils and according to the teachers increase their workload.

They are also unhappy about new timetables. Unions say there will be protests in regional capitals at the end of the month and a national day-long strike in January. in france24.com/en (Saturday, November 8, 2008 - 23:00)

LISBON (Reuters) - More than 100,000 teachers from all over Portugal marched in Lisbon Saturday in one of the country's biggest rallies in a decade to protest against the government's attempts to measure their performance.

Portugal has some of the lowest school achievement levels in western Europe and the Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates has made boosting education a priority. That includes performance evaluation for teachers.

Protesters, carrying banners reading "Respect for Teaching," demanded that the government cancel the program. They say the appraisals and excessive bureaucracy involved in the process all but paralysed schools, causing stress and lack of motivation among teachers and students.

Unions said as many as 120,000 people took part in the demonstration that clogged Lisbon's main Liberdade avenue and the vast Palace Square facing the Tagus river.

Police officials could not confirm the number, saying it was difficult to calculate "given the size of the protest," but witnesses said the crowd was in excess of 100,000 people.

Some of the banners called for the resignation of Education Minister Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues.

The minister said the evaluation model would continue despite the promise of further protests and a nationwide teachers' strike on January 19.

"We have to guarantee to the country the quality of schooling, which will allow us to distinguish and reward those who are better teachers," Lusa news agency quoted Rodrigues as saying. "Giving up is not a solution ... The improvement of teaching is absolutely essential." in uk.reuters.com (Sat Nov 8, 2008 9:14pm GMT)

Portugal’s teachers have descended on Lisbon en masse. More than 100,000 staff from all over the country gathered for a rally in the centre of the Portuguese capital.

They are furious at the socialist government’s education policies in general, and a new method of assessing teachers’ performance in particular – introduced for the first time this year.

Although they do not question the need for evaluation, they argue that the system as it stands is too bureaucratic, and difficult to operate fairly. But that is not the only issue which sparked such a huge turnout.

They are also unhappy with their work timetable, the way jobs are distributed, and the status of teachers in Portugal. in euronews.net (08/11/08, 19:22 CET)