As the budget of the Ministry of Education currently stands, there is not enough money for about 17,000 non-teaching staff, i.e. cooks, janitors or IT administrators. According to the department’s budget, about 6.8 billion crowns will be saved compared to this year.
Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek (STAN) wants to save at least part of the workers, but he needs to obtain additional funds during negotiations.
“Against the original proposal of the Ministry of Finance, from my point of view, it would be necessary to add about five billion more than we have now,” Bek explains, explaining how much more he wants to add.
In this way, it could be possible to save at least part of the non-teaching staff. The Ministry of Education had previously stated that it was ready to sacrifice eight thousand places because, according to the information of the office, they should be vacant.
“It is not about the willingness or unwillingness of the Minister of Finance. The draft budget was approved by the government as a whole. If such a significant change were to take place, the government coalition as a whole would undoubtedly have to agree on it,” explains Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura (ODS), how he stands up to the request of his government colleague.
However, the school unions are not willing to abandon the strike, which they have already announced for November 27, without a further increase in the budget.
“They have the right to do that, we live in a democratic society. But if they think that the strike will help in negotiations between the government and the unions, then it will definitely not help,” adds Stanjura.
The Ministry of Education is therefore looking for savings elsewhere. Starting next school year, it wants to reduce the number of teaching hours (the so-called PHmax) that it finances for schools. Basics by six percent, secondary by 15 percent. However, a large part of the schools turned against this and it is also one of the reasons why the unions finally declared a strike.
However, this step does not have clear support even within the coalition.
“As a former director, I say – after all, two or three months ago the Ministry of Education was still giving recommendations on how to draw PHmax, and now it changes during the year,” complains MP and member of the coalition group for education Pavlo Klím (TOP 09).
At the same time, he adds that he is not against having a debate about the effectiveness of school funding.
“It is fine that the minister is opening the debate so that we can set up the system differently from, for example, 2025, but rationally, not across the board. But we never said as a coalition that we would reach for PHmax. The directors are absolutely unprepared for this now. And that’s why it’s logical that schools riot,” adds Klíma.
Despite the fact that the planned cost-saving step in school funding caused a lot of resentment among principals and teachers, it will not bring a significant amount to the budget for at least next year, the Ministry of Education writes in the explanatory report for the proposal. The ministerial model based on this year’s data shows that this would save 1.4 billion crowns, but only from 2025.