All over India, teachers are on temporary contracts, on poverty pay, working in schools with lamentable facilities, teaching oversized classes. They are often struggling to teach undernourished children, many of them having to work to eke out the family income. Some immediate solutions to this situation might seem obvious: massive funding of public education to bring all schools up to the same standards as those enjoyed by the better off and a large scale redistribution of wealth to tackle poverty.
Instead the global education reform movement has come up with another solution: Sir Michael Wilshaw. Although this name is all too familiar to teachers in the UK, our other readers won't have heard of him. He is the outgoing head of the English school inspectorate, OFSTED, a draconian outfit which puts the fear of god into headteachers, forcing them to bear down on their staff, who have to perform in an 'outstanding' fashion in order to ensure their school comes out with glowing colours. If the school is found to be only 'adequate' or worse the head is frequently sacked and the school can be privatised or closed.
OFSTED causes more stress to English teachers than any other single thing, but then according to Sir Michael, in one of his more notorious statements, "If anyone says to you that 'staff morale is at an all-time low' you know you are doing something right."
Now Sir Michael is to become a senior adivser to the GEMS foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of a global chain of private schools, based in the United Arab Emirates, a country known for its practices of arbitrary detention, crushing of labour rights and torture.
And he's to concentrate on the development of 'low fee' private schools in India.
As a citizen of the UK, I can only apologise to my colleagues in India for this unwelcome export, just as I do for the malign influence of yet another UK knight, Sir Michael Barber in Pakistan.