'We need more teachers - not army brigades' Student teachers in Guatemala have been violently evicted from schools they were occupying The student teachers - who are in the so-called Escuelas Normales - are fighting for the continuation of a system which gives the opportunity for low-income and indigenous young people to become teachers. At present only 2% of the population goes on to higher education.  The schools have been at the centre of the struggle for indigenous and free education - now the governrment wants to extend the training time for the Magisterio (or teachers' degree) for students without negotiation, which would mean thousands of them would no longer be able to afford to train. Their spokesperson said they are not against the extension of training if it were free. The students say that the new laws being brought in are part of a drive to further privatise schools in Guatemala - already 80% of high school education is private. One of the student teachers told the website wagingnonviolence: There is evidence that the government has been turning over education to the private sector, private companies. We see more companies in different departments that now say they provide education. So now we’re conditioning our parents to work for those large companies so that they can have the right to education. That’s part of privatization. For example, there are over half a million kids in Guatemala who don’t go to school and that’s because there are more private schools than national schools… If students stop being able to complete the magisterio degree then it will be done away with all together. The private schools will be the ones left and it’s clear that those who can study there are middle and upper class people, who have power.  The government refuses to fund indigenous education centres for the Mayan people - while heavily subsidising private schools for the wealthy. The students have occupied schools in Guatemala City in the struggle to retain the Escuelas Normales. Amongst their slogans was: "Study and learn so that we never become police", even as they were violently evicted. This did not stop the students, who went on to block highways with the help of local communities, and a solidarity march is planned for today (July 5th)  - against police repression and in support of the student teachers. The escuelas normales system has also been at the centre of the struggle for free education in Mexico, where communities and teachers fought for the retention of the teacher training schools. Their struggle is documented in the film Granito de Arena . Editor's Note: Teachersolidarity was alerted to this story by the website of the International Student Movement which is an excellent source of news on the global struggles of students for public education.