Teachers in the Philippines joined students last week in protesting against the government's education reforms, high fees for students and low pay for teachers.

Students are angry about looming fee increases in a country where they already suffer crippling debt. At least two young students are reported to have committed suicide as a result of school debts. The students are also protesting the increasing privatisation of higher education.

Meanwhile the teachers are demanding a wage which is commensurate with their training and responsibility as well as long needed improvements to funding for education in general. A spokesperson for the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said, 'Teachers and employees’ pay remain low, benefits of education personnel have been reduced or removed, school buildings and facilities in public schools and state colleges and universities remain inadequate, yet students bear the burden of skyrocketing increases in tuition and exorbitant miscellaneous fees.' They are also demanding the resignation of the President Benigno Aquino III, for corruption and for his oppressive actions which they say have caused children and teachers to be displaced, and damaged school buildings.

At present a starting teacher earns just over $400 a month and teachers have not had a pay rise since 2009. Instead the government has brought in a damaging system of performance related pay, which has involved teachers in hours of extra paperwork and stress and fostered a competitive instead of a collaborative environment. And, while the government is hiring more teachers, it is not paying those already in post an adequate salary, leaders of the teaching union Alliance of Concerned Teachers, say.

Teachers and students are also angry about the K-12 programme, which on the surface seems like a good development - guaranteeing education for all for thirteen years. However as is so often the case with such reform, it has not been properly thought through, negotiated or funded and will result in mass redundancies or temporary contracts in colleges.

Tensions have been heightened in the country by a botched 'anti-terrorist' raid, apparently co-ordinated by the US which left 44 Philippine commandos dead. As one commentator asked, 'Why was a foreign government allowed to bring their war here?'