Children as young as nine have been protesting in Blantyre, the commercial centre of Malawi over the government's failure to pay teachers their salaries. Children blocked roads and threw stones earlier this week, saying that their education was being damaged by the government's actions. The children were also joined by teachers who demonstrated outside government buildings.

The chidren marched on the president's house, 'We want the president to know we are angry,' said Thoko, a 12-year-old student, who would not give her last name for fear of retribution. "He must pay our teachers so that we can go back to class." The children were eventually dispersed by police using teargas.

Teachers have still not been paid their October salaries and every month their salaries are late - sometimes not arriving at all. This is compounded by the fact that their salaries are insultingly low - as little as $50 a month  - and their value has been further depreciated by International Monetary Fund instructions to the country to devalue its currency last year.

Even worse, some teachers have not been paid at all for months. Of 10,000 teachers recruited to rural primary schools earlier this year, only 2,800 are on the pay roll, the rest have not been paid at all.

Malawi is a country from which tobacco corporations make massive profits, both by exploiting small farmers and through the use of child labour, as we reported earlier this year. Even as it is creating the enabling, low tax and low regulation environment to allow this to happen, the World Bank is also engaged in a five year project to 'improve education quality in Malawi.' Dollars are being poured into decentralising education and big data and testing systems, while the latest project report admits, 'The shortage of . . .  teachers may have adverse impact on teaching and learning and on learning outcomes.' This writer is left lost for words . . .