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Teachers join the squeegee merchants

Motorists in Rome have discovered an unexpected free service - having their windscreens cleaned by out-of-work teachers, writes David Newbold.

The National Association of Supply Teachers has been protesting against cut-backs in opportunities for supply work, low pay, and the fear that public funds may be allocated to the private sector in a general reform of the system.

The association believes that the state sector would shrink as a result, and that there would be a corresponding reduction in passes in concorsi, the state exams through which teachers are recruited to much-coveted tenured posts.

The aim of all supply teachers is to pass a concorso and get a jobfor life; if the exams were to dry up they would face an indefinitely long future as supply teachers.

By waiving the charge usually made by street-corner cleaners the teachers have ensured the sympathetic ear of motorists passing through Largo San Pantaleo, near the Piazza Navona.

Rome is accustomed to colourful pedagogical protests. In recent years, teachers have paraded through the capital's streets in camel costumes, chained themselves outside the education ministry, and dressed up as daisies ("a humble flower which grows everywhere and never dies").

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