Mexican lawmakers' approval of a measure subjecting teachers to a comprehensive regime of evaluation represents a triumph over "pressure and group interests," President Enrique Peña Nieto said Monday.

The legislation, part of a package of bills needed to implement the educational overhaul Peña Nieto promulgated in February, passed the lower house of Congress Sunday night by a vote of 369-69 with four abstentions.

Teacher evaluation is "transcendental for achieving quality in education," the president said, adding that he expects the Senate to take up the measure soon.

Members of the militant CNTE union, which represents a third of the country's public school teachers, have mounted a series of protests in Mexico City against what they describe as a "punitive" teacher-evaluation scheme.

Demonstrations by teachers temporarily forced senators and representatives to abandon the legislative chambers and continue their deliberations at a nearby business center.

CNTE members also besieged the headquarters of Mexico's two national television networks and briefly shut down the main road into the capital's international airport.

"Democracy respects minorities," but minorities must in turn respect democracy and institutions, Peña Nieto said Monday.

Acknowledging that a "good part of those who oppose" his schools overhaul come from poor, marginalized states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero, the president said his 2014 budget proposal will include extra educational funding for those regions. EFE