|AUTHOR||Jingqing Chai, Isabel Ortiz and Xavier R. Sire|
|TOPIC||Economic crisis and recovery|
Public service providers, especially frontline school teachers and health workers at local levels, are crucial to positive outcomes for children. Low pay is a key factor behind staff absenteeism, informal fees and brain drain. In past crises, pay levels for teachers and health workers have fallen in real terms, adversely impacting children in poverty areas. Similarly, during the current crisis, initial evidence suggests that real pay levels are falling. Comparing salaries of primary teachers and nurses in over twenty countries reveals that in 2009 many were near the poverty line. Further, a desk review of recent IMF reports reveals that most countries are advised to cap or cut wage bills in 2009-11. Actions are needed to protect pay levels of frontline workers in social services, who are vital to achieving the MDGs and ensuring recovery with a human face.