An estimated 500 people attended a meeting in Tralee, Co Kerry, last night to protest at the increase in the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools in rural areas.

The changes, announced in last December's Budget, affect two, three and four-teacher schools.

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation estimates that the increase in the pupil-teacher ratio will hit primary schools nationwide.

It estimates that up to 250 schools in rural areas will lose at least one teacher over the next three years, starting in September.

The meeting in Tralee was attended by teachers and by parents of children at primary schools throughout Kerry that will be affected by the changes.

Similar protest meetings have taken place elsewhere around the country. Efforts are now under way to establish an umbrella group to oppose the changes.