About 2.5 million primary and middle school students will return to class in Argentina's biggest province Monday after 17 days of teacher strikes over pay. The teachers union said Saturday it had reached agreement on a 30 percent salary hike. Teachers had previously rejected a similar offer from the government as insufficient to offset rising inflation, which experts say was at 25-30 percent last year. The province of Buenos Aires, adjacent to the same-named capital, accounts for 40 percent of the country's students and 36 percent of its teaching staff. Out of 826,500 teachers, 71 percent work in public education, according to official data. The teacher pay dispute, which comes up at the start of every school year, escalated this year amid spiraling inflation. The accumulated cost of living increased by 7.2 percent in the first quarter, according to an official rate calculated using new methodology, after a sharp 18 percent devaluation of the peso in January. Private analysts estimate national inflation in 2013 at about 28 percent, and question the official rate of 11 percent. The academic calendar in Argentina runs from March through December.