This website would be prepared to bet that few of us who teach in the North, would consider spending our working lives in the kind of conditions, teachers and children are struggling with all across the global South. A short news item about a school in Kampala, Uganda - is typical of the kinds of problems teachers face.  In this case, 13 teachers in a primary school, went on a sit-down strike over the state of the toilets in the school. In the end they dug a pit latrine themselves, rather than run the risk of having to use the dangerously unsanitary toilets. They took this action, despite the fact that teachers in the school had been victimised in the past for making complaints.

In at least five countries in Africa, 60% of schools have no toilets at all according to a UNESCO survey. Meanwhile in South Asia, things are no better. The above video clip, sent to teachersolidarity by an Indian education activist and academic, shows the struggle for toilet facilities in Andhra Pradesh, India. Of 913 schools surveyed, 64% of children had no access to toilet facilities - either because they were non-existent or because they were broken. Children can be seen in the clip describing the impossibility of studying because the stench and the mosquitos are so bad.

As the World Bank economists trot out their nostrums for bringing Education for All - performance related pay, temporary contracts, privatisation and the rest - perhaps they would like to think about suggesting that such basic infrastructure is an essential prerequisite for learning and indeed for work of any sort. But of course they won't do that because according to them, the problem is not lack of resources, it's lazy teachers who are at fault. For examaple in one of their recent policy documents, Making Schools Work, which significantly shows a teacher asleep on the front - they specifically rule out any problems of that sort on the first page: "This book is about the threats to education quality that cannot be explained by lack of resources." 

The words of the headteacher in Kampala are instructive, she "pointed out that since the school is under the UPE programme, it operates under a limited budget and therefore she asked teachers to go back to class and teach." Universal Primary Education is another name for Education For All and one of the Millennium Development Goals. It is clear from her words that the programme, far from being a reason to provide more infrastructure to schools is actually a reason why there is less money available. Given the priorities of World Bank education policy this is hardly a surprise.

As the economists and pundits of the World Bank continue to send out their edicts from their presumably air-conditioned offices, the children and teachers in the global South continue to teach and learn against the odds in appalling and unsanitary conditions.