The strike last Wednesday, called by the Union of Students, involved students from the ages of 14 upwards and teachers who struck alongside them. Huge marches also involved many parents bringing younger children.
Organisers say two million students, or 90 percent, stayed out of class, and 200,000 people joined 70 marches across the state.
This academic year sees the first trials of exams for 15-16 and 18 year olds that could see them barred from going to university.
On the march in Madrid, teaching student Amara told El Mundo newspaper, “It’s not fair that a student could work hard throughout their studies, but still need an exam in order to graduate.”
Maria, marching with her two children aged five and six years old, added, “I want them to have an egalitarian education. If they have one bad day it ruins a lifetime of effort.”
Marchers chanted “Get the workers’ children into university”.
Ana Garcia, general secretary of the Union of Students, said, “These exams seek to kick young people out of education—and it is we who come from the working class who will suffer most.”
On the day of the strike Spain still had no government after ten months of deadlock.
But prime minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative PP won a parliamentary vote to form a minority government last Saturday.
It was only possible because all but 15 MPs of the Labour-type Socialist party abstained.
Marchers were furious at the compromise, chanting “Whoever doesn’t vote is with the PP”, “Rajoy out” and “More teachers, fewer ministers!”
The exams are part of a law voted in three years ago. It faced massive opposition at the time and its return could cause big problems for Rajoy’s fragile new administration.
It underlines the need for an independent revolutionary organisation to help shape the struggles.
Rajoy rushed to tell students that the exams would not be rolled out before a “national education pact”. The Union of Students pointed out that that was always the case.
It vowed to call more strikes on 24 November if the law wasn’t repealed, and called on trade unions to join them in a general education strike.
In a statement it said, “This government is weak, illegitimate, and we are going to bring it down.”