Teachers in the Maldives protested against low pay and underfunding of education last Sunday by wearing black to school. As in so many countries, teachers' pay is considerably worse than that of other public employees or other people with similar qualifications. An experienced graduate teacher's pay in the islands is about $600 a month, not enough to live in the capital, and teachers often have to supplement their salaries by taking on private tuition after school.

The president of the Maldives Teachers Association told reporters: "We are not only protesting to increase our poor salaries and allowances. This is also about improving the resources that are made available to teachers and schools. Also, we urge the government to find qualified and talented teachers. Student development depends on efficient teachers, resources and the teacher's satisfaction and motivation."

The Maldives main source of income is tourism, but this has dropped in recent years. The International Monetary Fund initially lent the government funds to tackle the budget deficit but has now withdrawn their help. It is recommending its usual prescriptions - cutting public spending and in particular the public sector wage bill - in other words they are suggesting that teachers are paid even less.

The government sent a letter round to schools, telling administrations to warn the teachers not to take part in Sunday's protest. They said that teachers must not do anything to compromise the 'dignity' of schools. Fortunately the teachers ignored this directive, with 90% taking part in the protest - perhaps feeling that the 'dignity' of education would be better guaranteed by proper levels of funding, which did not require teachers to take extra jobs in order to survive.