In June this year a young Turkish teacher died from going on hunger strike while suffering from cancer. His hunger strike was to protest both the lack of medical care offered to him by the state and the failure of the government to employ qualified teachers. His name was Safak Bay – he was 25 and he had never had the opportunity to teach. Safak was the founder of an organisation in Turkey called the Teachers Not Yet Appointed Platform. Before he died, he said: “I do not want to say farewell after living only 25 years without having entered one class as a teacher.” Though this young man’s medical diagnosis made his case particularly cruel, the devastating effects of the policy of employing so-called contract teachers as a way of saving money on the education budget is sadly not unique. In fact the use of contract teachers – otherwise known as temporary teachers or adjunct faculty – is a feature of the educational landscape in all sectors and in most parts of the world. Contract teachers can vary from those with doctorates – as in the case of the Kashmiri teachers teachersolidarity reported on recently – to those who have scarcely got a primary school education as was recently reported on this site in Sierra Leone. However they share one thing in common – they are paid often a fraction of what a regular teacher earns, they have no job security and even where they need it no proper professional development and they either replace teachers with proper long term contracts and training or they are properly trained teachers being employed on the cheap. This policy measure is one which is actively encouraged by the World Bank. In one document it says approvingly “recent progress in primary education in Francophone countries resulted from reduced teacher costs, especially through the recruitment of contractual teachers, generally at about 50% the salary of civil service teachers.” What is more the World Bank commissions research which purports to show that contract teachers are not only cheaper than regular teachers but better. For example a 2009 report from the World Bank in India by Goyal and Pandey, simply called ‘contract teachers’ makes the following extraordinary statement: “We find that after controlling for teacher characteristics and school fixed effects, contract teachers are associated with higher effort than civil service teachers with permanent tenures. Given that salaries earned by contract teachers are one fourth or less of civil service teachers, contract teachers may be a more cost-effective resource.” When you consider that teachers in countries such as India can earn as little as $120 a month  - see the recent post on Orissa teachers – the idea that teachers should be expected to live on a fourth of these paltry amounts is extraordinary. Contract teachers in India often have no training and those that are trained are simply being hired on the cheap. This policy is not however confined to the Global South. More and more it is being introduced in OECD countries, including of course in that test bed of neo-liberal education policy – England – where the right wing government’s latest policy is to open so-called free schools whose ‘teachers’ do not have to have any qualifications at all. Needless to say these free schools do not adhere to nationally determined pay and conditions for teachers. Yet in those countries which even according to the OECDs own criteria ‘do best’  teachers are highly trained: in Finland, consistently at the top of the league tables, they have to have a masters degree in order to teach. Post after post on this site has detailed the fight for proper contracts for teachers: from the unemployed teachers in Greece setting up camp outside the parliament, to hunger strikers in India, to the long campaign in Kenya to employ more teachers and to regularize and train contract teachers. Safak Bay was sadly not alone in choosing death rather than the frustration of his deep desire to teach. Earlier this year a young woman – 27 year old Kiranjit Kaur burned herself to death in protest at the Indian state of Punjab’s unwillingness to employ qualified teachers. What these two dreadful events symbolise is that teaching is not a matter of ‘delivery’ of a set of pre-determined outcomes, which can be done by unskilled people – but a profession to which most teachers are deeply committed. It is the hope of teachersolidarity that teachers from around the world can begin to co-ordinate their struggles against this policy which is an insult to the teaching profession and which devalues the education, which the children of the world deserve.