Primary school teachers in Benue State, Nigeria are still on strike in pursuit of the minimum wage, which is $112 a month. The state is the last in Nigeria to hold out against paying the minimum wage to its primary teachers, as it undertook to do in an agreement made with the Nigerian National Union of Teachers (NUT) earlier this year.

The strike has been ongoing since October and now the government is threatening to sack the striking teachers. The President of the NUT, Michael Olukaya, said that the state government was treating primary school teachers like slaves. He went on: “No wonder this sector of education continues to suffer from brain drain. It follows therefore that the situation will continue unabated with this type of injustice."

In October, primary school students demonstrated their support for their teachers and demanded that the government honour its agreement to pay the teachers.

These latest developments are just one more chapter in the long struggle for free public education in Nigeria. Teachers in the country have repeatedly had to take strike action for a living wage and meanwhile their colleagues in universities have only just ended a months long strike, aimed at getting higher education funded properly.

Meanwhile multi-national corporations continue to make mega profits from the vast mineral wealth in the country, helped both by the World Bank, which creates the 'business friendly' environment and by corrupt politicians. This is the same World Bank which funds vast amounts of 'research' and produces endless documents about the need to reach the goal of universal primary education by 2015. In so far as it invests money into this goal in Nigeria it is to: 'introduce results-based financing . . . establish a strong monitoring and evaluation system . . . tap the private sector to complement the government's efforts in delivering quality education for all.' In other words, the usual round of neo-liberal 'reforms' which both implicitly and explicitly blame teachers for the failure to reach the goal. Meanwhile teachers are supposed to exist on less than the minimum wage, without even beginning to speak of the appalling conditions in which they and the children have to work.

As the President of the university teachers union in the country, the ASUU, put it:  "The alternative (to making Nigerian universities great again) is to continue in the path charted for us by the duo of IMF and World Bank, which dictates that we surrender our country and the future of our children to continued slavery. We deserve to be free. To achieve freedom, we must struggle to free our education."

The struggle of the teachers in Benue State, both against the threat of sacking and for the minimum wage deserves global solidarity, just as the that of the university teachers continues to do.