Teachers at minority Muslim schools or Madrasas in Kolkota, India have been on hunger strike for the whole of October and reports say one woman teacher has died as a result. The teachers had been promised that their schools would be recognised but for the majority this still has not happened, leaving them with no job security and a pitiful income of as little as $75 a month. Although the schools are sanctioned by the government as education providers, this does not amount to 'recognition'. As a result not only are the teachers suffering but no uniforms, books or school meals are provided for the predominantly low income children who attend the schools.

The teacher who died was Chanda Saha, she returned home after taking part in the hunger strike and died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. She leaves behind a disabled husband and apparently on coming home 'I don't know what is going to happen. How can I survive?' Teachers held a special protest on the day after her death on Sunday.

The teachers have been campaigning for months for recognition and pay, but despite government promises, nothing has been forthcoming. The present excuse for inaction is that the schools are on holiday. However statements from the West Bengal government have been dismissive, calling the hunger strike of over 50 teachers 'only a sit-in demonstration.' 

Muslim children are a minority in India and are commonly both economically and socially oppressed. While Indian state and national governments pay lip service to equal opportunities and education for all, events such as that in Kolkota tell a different story.