Teachers went on strike across Kosovo this week in pursuit of better pay and conditions. Although the strike was only for an hour, it was well supported and teachers' leaders say the strike will escalate if its demands are not met.

The last government had promised a 25% pay increase for public sector workers every year for the next three years. However when the new government came in at the end of 2014, it took back the promise, saying that the increases would only be in line with growth. This decision was made, according to reports, because the pay rise promise had 'alarmed Kosovo's western financial backers and the International Monetary Fund'. As a result the government has not only rescinded the pay rises but is also slashing taxes for businesses and giving some firms lengthy tax breaks. This is under conditions where 45% of the population are living below the poverty line and where students are at present engaged in mass protests against increases in energy costs. 

Meanwhile the IMF's brother organisation the is heavily involved in the education sector in Kosovo. Teachers are working in very difficult conditions, with 65% of children living on less than $2.15 a day. Moreover the country has only recently emerged from a bitter civil war, which has left an aftermath of ethnic tensions. Conditions in schools are bad, they often have to work two shifts, the infrastructure is poor and class sizes often large. Nevertheless, and despite being poorly paid, according to one academic , teachers have made 'remarkable efforts . . . to maintain a functioning education system.' Teachers should be properly paid for the difficult and important job they are doing and given proper conditions in which to work.