Teachers and their independent unions are taking part in the mass protests which have swept across Egypt over the last few days. Teachers are taking part on the occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo - the epicentre of the 2011 demonstrations which led to the ousting o Mubarak. 

 Little has changed for teachers and children since the election of Mohammed Morsi as president of Egypt. Teachers earn very little - some even earn nothing at all. They are forced to supplement their lack of earnings by giving private tuition, which is more or less compulsory for pupils. Classes can be as big as 100 and facilities are poor. Moreover the practice of hiring teachers on temporary contracts is rife in Egypt and has led to strikes, demonstrations and sit-ins - most recently by a group of disabled contract teachers in Zagazig. Not only are their conditions and salaries very bad, they also have to suffer the same attacks on their professional autonomy as teachers in many other parts of the world - being treated, as one teacher put it, 'more like clerks' delivering predigested lessons, than teachers.

Teachers were in the forefront of the formation of independent unions in Egypt, even before the 2011 revolution. Now the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions is crucial to the fight to oust Morsi. In a statement the federation points out that trade union freedoms - far from being enhanced as promised after the revolution - are being denied. Striking workers are attacked by police with dogs, strikes are outlawed and Egypt is on an ILO black list of countries with the worst records on human rights.

The teachers and the other protesters say they will continue to protest and occupy Tahrir Square 'until the fall of the regime.'

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