It was interesting to witness the caravan of the great and the good rolling into Abuja when the world's attention was briefly focused on the dreadful abduction of over 200 Nigerian school girls in the North of the country. Among them was Gordon Brown, the UN's special envoy for education, demanding that schools should be made safe places for children. These are of course laudable aims. Unfortunately very few people - apart from education activists and some teaching unions in that country point out that the problem with Nigerian schools lies much more deep than the unfulfillable aspiration to place guards on every door.

Nigeria, like so many other countries in the global South is resource rich. International corporations like Shell and BP are making billions of dollars in profits from the country, oiling the palms of a small political elite to help smooth their passage. They are aided and abetted in that process by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As a result far from seeing any benefeit from the land which is their birthright, the vast majority of Nigerians live in poverty and moreover the scramble for oil is polluting large tracts of land and driving people from their homes.

Only when something so egregious happens that it briefly grabs the attention of social and other media, do the international elites suddenly spring to life. Never mind that tens of teachers and hundreds of children have been abducted and many murdered in the North of the country over several years before the latest outrage. And never mind that teachers live on the poverty line and some are not paid at all. The teachers in Benue state have just gone back to work after an eight month strike when some of them reportedly starved to death in the struggle for the minimum wage. Now teachers in Kogi state are on strike because some have not been paid at all for four months. When they went to Government House to peacefully protest they were attacked by security forces using tear gas.

There is only one force on earth which can change the situation where the majority are living in poverty and teachers exist on poverty pay often with little training and working in intolerable conditions. And that force is not possibly well-meaning but in essence arch neo-liberal politicians like Gordon Brown, nor international financial institutions like the World Bank. Both of these in their different ways are part of the problem. The solution however lies with teachers, their unions and the communities they serve struggling to change the system which allows this to happen - just like those in Kogi state and those in Benue state in Nigeria. And for that matter those in Greece, the UK and British Columbia - all struggling this week for a better world for all children.