Teachers in Colombia, the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist, are taking strike action against their 'squalid' pay and unfair teacher evaluation systems. The strike started yesterday and involves 334,000 teachers.

A leader of the FECODE teachers' union said that the evaluation system had become, "An instrument that does not impact at all on the quality of education but disqualifies (people) so that the teachers cannot move ahead and improve their incomes."

Teachers in Colombia need support from teachers all over the world. One of the leaders of FECODE, Omar Combita has been in prison for 'rebellion', and many teachers over the years have been killed by extra judicial deaths squads. In an important and shocking document, available on the Education International website, Dr Mario Novelli sets out the numbers of human rights violations against, in particular, teacher activists in Colombia. Between 1999 and 2005, 1,174 trade unionists were murdered in the world - the vast majority were Colombian (816) and more than half of those were teachers (416). Novelli says: "While these figures are indeed shocking they represent only a partial representation of the nature and scale of violence, death threats, forced disappearances and displacement that the education community in Colombia continues to endure on a daily basis."

Teachers have also been prominent along with students in supporting the strikes of small farmers against trade deals which are taking away their livelihoods, mining corporations being allowed to take over their land and the increasing stranglehold of multi-national corporations like Monsanto. The farmers strikes have suffered brutal repression in the last few weeks.