In Lesotho, teachers are fighting for decent pay and better working conditions. The teachers unions are demanding that provision for improvements be put in the country's budget and are threatening action in September if this demand is not met.

Teachers in the country earn about $200 a month, despite the fact that many have taken courses to improve their qualifications including to degree standard. Many had got into debt after being encouraged to pay for further professional training by the government, hoping to be able to repay the debt through their increased salaries. However these increases had not been forthcoming.

A spokesperson for the teachers, who presented a petition to the government ealier this month said: “Has your ministry realised that some of these individuals are now badly depressed, while some have lost their property? Others have created bad blood with their relatives because of the loans they borrowed from them which they now cannot repay."

Lesotho is a small, impoverished country, completely surrounded by South Africa and is one of the world's poorest with 57% pf the people living below the poverty line and a life expectancy of 53 years. Despite this adult literacy rates are relatively high at 80%, thanks to the hard work of Lesotho's teachers. Typically however their efforts are not recognised in a salary which would enable them to live with dignity. Needless to say the World Bank is suggesting more private sector involvement in a situation in which it says public spending is 'unsustainable', mostly due to the wage bill - try telling that to Lesotho's teachers.