Teachers in the Philippines took action today against a salary offer which treats them like 'mendicants', according to leaders of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). Teachers joined other public employees including those in the health sector to march on Congress in the capital Manila.

The teachers are fighting over much more than pay, however. The Philippines has become a textbook example of the infiltration of the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) into public education. In an excellent and detailed analysis, commissioned by Education International, researcher Curtis B. Riep lays bare the ideological basis of changes being made to education in the country.

An unholy alliance between the large Philippino corporation Ayala, global education corporation Pearson and the Aquino government is syphoning off funds to private providers at the same time as it increases segregation in education. The so-called APEC chain of secondary schools, owned by Ayala and Pearson, charge fees, partly funded by government vouchers, which are still out of reach for the poorest of the poor. Moreover the schools are often situated in rented space above businesses like car rental firms or banks. The teachers are paid poverty wages and are often unqualified. And the curriculum, which is delivered in scripted form, is designed with the burgeoning position of the Philippines as a repository for cheap labour firmly in mind.

The ACT has been campaigning for a long time against these changes which have been facilitated by the government's K12 reforms. Today they have received important evidence to support their campaign in a press conference to launch Riep's research. Anyone who is interested in GERM and the fight against it should read this report. It ends with a telling quote from Philippino congressman Antonio Tinio:

'Filipinos will not lift themselves out of poverty by exporting our labour or educating our students so they can become low-paid, low-skilled workers for foreign companies.'