Thousands of Poland's teachers and parents are protesting the conservative government's plan to phase out middle schools that serve children between the ages of 12 and 16.

Organized by the teachers' union, the noisy protest in downtown Warsaw on Saturday was another public show of discontent with the policies of Poland's year-old Law and Justice government.

The Education Ministry has proposed doing away with the country's three-year middle schools, or gimnazjum, starting next year. The ministry says the schools are unsafe and do a poor job educating students.

It wants to go back to the system of eight-year primary schools and four-year high schools Poland had until 1999.

The protesters say they fear the loss of jobs and argue that a new curriculum would have to be written in haste.