A rural primary school in Ghana
Members of the Teachers and Education Workers (TEWU) union in Ghana have embarked on an indefinite strike to protest at lack of progress in their salary negotiations
Leaders of the union say that the negotiations have been dragging on since 2001 - yet there have only been five meetings with government. Teachers are finding it difficult to exist on their low salaries and in some cases they are owed months of back pay. Teachers in higher education institutions will also be joining the strike if there is no progress by next week.
Although Ghana is potentially a very rich country with precious metal deposits including gold and diamonds - its people are very poor and the adult literacy rate is only jusy 60%. Unfortunately the government is having to go to the IMF for loans as a result of the world economic crisis which will mean further pressure on public services and in particular on teacher salaries which are already extremely low. One study calculated that countries which go to the IMF for funding, cut on average 8% from their public spending budgets and the IMF imposes a cap on public sector salaries.
Over the last few months there has been a wave of strikes throughout Africa against low and unpaid wages and appalling conditions- making a mockery of the purported wish of the richest countries to honour the millenium development goals of free primary education for all by 2015.