Teachers in different parts of India are once again taking action to campaign for the proper funding of public education. Scarcely a month goes by when a section of teachers in India is not on strike, on hunger strike or demonstrating in other ways against the use of temporary contracts, against privatisation and for a living wage.

This week it is the turn of teachers in Tamil Nadu in the south of the country, who occupied their schools yesterday, and today are on a token strike. 60,000 teachers are taking part in the action to secure wage increases, which have been owed to primary and junior secondary teachers since 2006. Teachers in India can earn as little as $40 a month, particularly if they are on temporary contracts, as hundreds of thousands of them are. The Tamil teachers are also campaigning for the continuation of the Tamil language as a medium of instruction. Increasingly English is being used for low income children, causing huge detriment to their education, since it is a language which is alien to their local communities.

Meanwhile a march organised by the All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) is culminating in the capital, New Delhi, tomorrow. This is the latest stage of the  AIPTF's campaign for free public education fo all children in India. Three marches across 23 states in the country are gathering in the capital tomorrow, and on Saturday there will be a conference. Meetings have been held by the marchers in almost 2000 communities across India.

The AIPTF spokespeople made clear that while they are campaigning for quality education for all, they are not content with aspects of the much lauded Right to Education (RTE) act, which was passed in 2009, nor with the failure to implement those parts of the act which are progressive, for example as regards school infrastructurre. The union is demanding that at leat 6% of gross domestic product be spent on education, of which 50% must be spent on primary education. At present, millions of schools in the country are housed in inadequate buildings, are understaffed and underresourced (many for instance do not even have toilets or running water) and teachers are so poorly paid that it is almost impossible for some of them to survive on their own, leave alone provide for a family.

AIPTF says it is trying to get the RTE on track by campaigning against public private partnerships. At present the act gives a big role to the burgeoning private school sector, for example in the huge municipality of Mumbai, the authorities recently passed the entire school stock over to public private partnerships.The union is also demanding the regularisation of the contracts of temporary teachers, for proper facilities for teacher training and for an end to the closures of public schools.