Teachers in Nigeria held strikes and rallies today in protest at the abduction of 200 schoolgirls and the murders of 173 teachers over the last five years by the group Boko Haram. The group has also killed many pupils over the same period.

The President of the Nigerian National Union of Teachers (NUT) said: "All schools nationwide shall be closed as the day will be our day of protest against the abduction of the Chibok female students and the heartless murder of the 173 teachers."

There has been intense criticism of the Nigerian government for its failure to react quickly and effectively to the abductions and killings. The killings of pupils and teachers had been largely ignored by the international media (though not by this website). Also ignored has been the long struggle of teachers in the Benue state, some of whom have starved to death according to some reports in their fight for a minimum wage.

Although Nigeria has now been identified as the biggest economy in Africa, the vast majority of its population are yet to see any benefit from it with about 100 million of its population living on less than a dollar a day. Meanwhile corporations like Shell and BP continue to make mega-profits from the country and the Nigerian elite enrich themselves as a result.

Youth unemployment is at 54% in Nigeria. The tragedy of this situation was starkly shown in March when 65,000 young people went to  the National Satdium in Abuja (having paid $6 each for the privilege) to take an exam for a handful of jobs in the immigration service. The event had been outsourced by the government to a private recruitment company. As a result of a failure to organise the event properly, 16 young people were killed in the crush. It is against this background that Boko Haram is able to flourish.

While world leaders mouth platitudes about the need to bring back the girls, they continue to allow and encourage multi-national corporations to lay waste countries like Nigeria, corrupting a local elite in the process. And teachers and pupils still determinedly continue to go to school, despite the threats to their lives. As one primary teacher in Northern Nigeria put it:

“But we continue. We believe that without education our people will not move on. And we believe that teaching is a noble profession that helps humanity.”