Teachers in Sao Paulo, Brazil have staged mass protests against the appallingly low levels of funding in the municipality. On Friday they voted to extend their strike indefinitely. Basic supplies in schools are often absent, the infrastructure is crumbling with unventilated classrooms and precarious water supplies. Classes can be as large as 70 to one teacher. Moreover many teachers are on temporary contracts and hundreds have lost their jobs.

Sao Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil and the richest, with 26 billionaires living in the state. This wealth goes alongside great poverty and of course the miserable conditions in the public schools. Now teachers are on strike with a series of demands to rescue public education, including proper funding for schools, reinstatement of sacked teachers, an end to performance related pay, an end to the commodification of education and reduced class sizes.

In a blog post, Professor Pedro Toledo Ramos accuses the main stream media of ignoring both the state of public education and the teachers' strike, which 120,000 teachers have joined. As he puts it: 'despite the national consensus on the strategic importance of basic education for the full development of our country, it is clear that in all spheres of government . . . the desperate situation for Brazilian teachers is a taboo not to be discussed in the dining room.' This mindset is promoted by the World Bank, with it's latest document about teaching in Latin America, where it blames teachers for problems in education, advocates precarity and draconian accountability measures and discounts the problems of underfunding of schools. As Ramos puts it: The School of the poor is only a precarious prison, designed to keep them not only at the periphery of society, but also marginal in their own future.