Paris suburbs get spanking new Olympic venues while teachers and pupils seethe in decrepit schools

Teachers and parents in the north-eastern suburbs of Paris have staged several weeks of strikes and protests in the run-up to the Paris Olympics, leveraging the Games as they call for urgent measures to help struggling state schools in mainland France’s poorest region, home to many of the Olympics’ signature venues.

Snaking her way through a maze of roadworks, Saint-Ouen resident Zora Cheikh is unimpressed with the vast resources that have been pumped into this suburb of Paris in the run-up to the Olympics.

Located on the northern edge of Paris, Saint-Ouen will host a large chunk of the Olympic Village this summer, part of huge infrastructure projects that officials have touted as a game-changing legacy for the Seine-Saint-Denis area, the poorest in mainland France.

Cheikh, however, is more concerned about the chronic teacher shortages that have stripped her children of hundreds of hours of learning throughout the academic year.

“When you see the money they’re pumping into the Olympics, which will last only a few weeks, it’s infuriating,” said the mother of five. “Our kids’ education, that’s where the future lies.”

Cheikh flagged a dearth of replacement teachers, nurses and supporting staff at her children’s schools that have gone months without French, maths or music teachers. She also lamented a crumbling infrastructure that leaves teachers and pupils to contend with pest infestations, leaking roofs and classrooms that have neither heating nor ventilation.

Read more on FRANCE 24 English

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