Zambia has become the latest country in Africa to fail to pay its teachers money to which they are entitled. Even the minister of education himself has admitted at the Zambian National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) conference that the situation for teachers is bad in the country: “I know there is a lack of visible appreciation for teachers, schools are falling apart, teachers’ accommodation has not been a priority over the years but the PF government remains committed to enhancing the welfare of teachers."

ZNUT say they will take strike action next term if allowances to which teachers are entitled are not paid. They are also calling for more teachers so that class sizes, which at present are invariably much too large, can be cut, and for more training for teachers.

Zambia's education service after independence was noted for its good quality and indeed the economy of the country was doing well, until the price of copper plummeted on international markets and international lenders increased interest rates, plunging the country into a cycle of debt. Now multinational corporations are making billions out of the country's mineral resources. One such corporation, Glencore, owns a 73% share in the Mopani copper and cobalt mines which have polluted the drinking water and the atmosphere of the area, as well as making hundreds of miners unemployed with disastrous consequences.

What is perhaps more relevant to the failure to fund education properly, is that Glencore avoids paying tax in Zambia by transferring its profits to Switzerland - thus depriving the country of the revenues to which it is entitled. While local people live in abject poverty in a polluted landscape and schools remain severely underfunded, international 'peace envoy' Tony Blair made $1 million in 3 hours last September, brokering  a deal between Glencore and the Qataris.

It is against this background that teachers in Zambia continue their struggle to provide education and campaign for proper education funding.