Teachers' leaders in Kenya have suspended their five week strike in response to this week's court ruling ordering them to return to work. The teachers have been under sustained attack - both from attempts to declare their strike illegal and in the latest development, the employers' decision to hire 70,000 temporary teachers in order to break the strike. They also have yet to receive their pay for September, under conditions where even before the strike they were finding it difficult, if not impossible, to make ends meet.

The leader of the larger union, KNUT, has demanded that the September pay be forthcoming and warned that the strike would be resumed in 90 days if the 50% - 60% pay rise agreed and upheld by the courts is not forthcoming.

The President of Kenya has mouthed the familiar argument that the government cannot afford to pay the teachers the pay rise which is their due. And yet it has been calculated that $6 billion is lost every year through tax evasion in the country by multinational corporations. So foreign shareholders and financiers and local elites are enriching themselves while those on low incomes, including the country's teachers, continue to suffer.

The government has been treating Kenyan teachers with contempt. As long as they are on near poverty pay and expected to work in intolerable conditions, including in fear for their lives in some parts of the country, more and more will choose to leave the profession and fewer young people will choose to join it. That is the real threat to public education and in fighting for decent pay, the teachers of Kenya have been fighting for education itself. Their steely determination in the face of continued provocation is an inspiration to those of us fighting for public education everywhere.