MOSCOW  -   French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer promised on Friday to evaluate the possible consequences of the “shocking” arrests of high school students in the Mantes-la-Jolie commune, yet stressed the need to not forget the context and circumstances that had led to such developments.

On Thursday, young people in Mantes-la-Jolie, located in the Yvelines department, took to the streets protesting the government’s proposed education reforms. A protest outside Antoine de Saint-Exupery lyceum ended in clashes with police, with more than 140 people having been arrested. A video tape from the scene showed scores of young people kneeling in front of police with their hands behind their heads.

“When I saw these images, obviously I was shocked like all other people who had reacted to the recording. I am not saying that this is good. This is bad and, of course, we will evaluate the possible consequences,” Blanquer told the France Inter radio station.

At the same time, the minister said it was important “not to forget the context” in which these arrests took place, stressing that young people had been staging riots outside the school and attacking police “for several days.”

“Over the past several days, young people over the age of 20 ... had been blocking [the entrance to] the lyceum and even managed to mobilize some students ... They stole gas cylinders, were engaged in extortion and attacked law enforcement officers,” Blanquer stressed. French students have been angered by the government’s plans to change the baccalaureate, which is the final exam required to get accepted into a university.

The protests in Mantes-la-Jolie took place amid broader discontent among the French public with the government’s policies, including the so-called yellow vest protests, which have been triggered by planned increases to fuel taxes.