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Students protest, clash with police in Peru over new educational reform bill

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Hundreds of protesting students and civil servants in Peru have clashed with police in the capital city of Lima while marching towards the nation’s Congress to protest planned educational reforms.

Demonstrators censured Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on Thursday for proposing legislation that he says will improve the higher education system as well as the quality of deteriorating government services.

Civil servants reportedly clashed with riot police as they attempted to demonstrate in front of the presidential palace, which is off-limits to protest rallies, just a day after Humala signed a bill that requires public employees to undergo annual performance evaluations.

Local TV broadcasts showed riot police firing tear gas and water cannons against protesters that were wielding sticks and throwing stones.

Meanwhile, there were reports of several injuries during protests held in Lima and other provincial capitals.

Critics, meanwhile, insist that the proposed law would force thousands from their jobs and take away the autonomy of Peru’s universities. The new laws would reportedly impose tougher standards on universities and bureaucrats.

President Humala, a former military officer, was elected in 2011 as a moderate leftist, though critics argue that he has since leaned to the right.

Although the protest rallies in Peru were not as massive as the recent anti-government demonstrations in South American nations of Chile and Brazil, they may produce renewed criticism of the Peruvian president following several months of relative calm in the nation.

This is while another legislative bill to reform universities and tighten standards for college professors is pending in the Peruvian Congress.

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