Six contract teachers' leaders in the Jharkhand state of India have started a 'fast unto death', One of their number Sanjay Dubey explained, "The para teachers are being cheated. We have been promised several things for many years now but till date we got no result. When we broke our previous strike we were promised that a three-member committee will be made to look into the para teachers' problems and one para teacher will be the member of the committee. However, no committee was made and it has been over one year now."

Last October thousands of contract teachers in the region went on strike to demand regular contracts and increased pay. 80% of primary teachers in the state are on temporary contracts, earning as little as $89 a month. The use of contract or 'para-teachers' is endemic throughout India and is continually contested by the teachers themseves and their unions, as post after post on this website testifies. It is a policy actively promoted by the World Bank as a way of providing education on the cheap for the world's poor. Often the teachers have no training, although even those who do receive only slightly more and, like their untrained colleagues, have no job security - a situation which often leads to stress-related depression and not infrequently suicide. Nor is the problem confined to India, it is one which is replicated across the global South.

Meanwhile the head of the World Bank in India,  Onno Ruhl is pleased with the country's economic performance, with a 4.8% increase in GDP: "If we look at the numbers, it clearly shows that we are trending up," he says.  Teachersolidarity is sure this will be a huge comfort to the teachers in Jharkand who are living on the bread line and to their brave representatives who are fasting to death for their rights.