School unions are demanding a 15 percent pay rise for teaching staff next year. It looks like a fairly ambitious plan, considering that the government on Wednesday only increased the frozen salaries of some civil servants by 10 percent since January.
But the government has no other option if it wants to fulfill its program statement and also the amendment to the law on teaching staff, which it approved in mid-August. Both documents assume that teaching staff will receive 130 percent of the average salary.
Last year, according to the unions, it was just under 119 percent. The average salary of a teacher has increased to 44,936 crowns, but in order for the government to keep its promise last year, every teacher would have to receive 4.5 thousand more per month, i.e. over 49 thousand crowns.
Instead, this year the promise took on a shortfall: Finance Minister Zbyněk Stanjura (ODS) cut one percent from the promised three percent, so the ratio to the average wage will probably drop to 113 percent by the end of the year.
“We were assured that the government is taking our demands into account and that finances will be discussed,” says František Dobšík, head of the school union.
Ukrainians with Ukrainians, Czechs with Czechs
Due to insufficient capacities, separate and segregated Ukrainian schools will be established in the Czech Republic.
So far, Fial’s government has not followed up on the unprecedented success of the previous Babiš cabinet, which finally got the Czechia off the bottom of international comparisons.
Even in 2017, the Czechia was at the very bottom of the tables that show the salary of teachers and other university-educated workers side by side. According to the latest data from 2019, at least Hungary, Italy and Slovakia finally got under it. Only in the coming years, however, will significant increases in salaries in 2020 and 2021 be compared.
“Educators will know this when we finish the debate on the state budget,” Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ANO) did not want to be specific about the increase in teachers’ salaries.
At the same time, keeping the salaries of teachers, teaching assistants or educators at a finally somewhat reasonable level is absolutely essential for the future of Czech education. In the following years, the Czechia has to count on the retirement of strong classes of teachers and, at the same time, the growing number of children in primary and secondary schools, as well as the influx of Ukrainian refugees.
Younger teachers fare better than older teachers
However, if incoming university students do not see the teaching profession as promising, the Czech education system has no chance of surviving. And it all starts with the salary.
“The time has come for the state to tie its hands a little with regard to teachers’ salaries. This is an absolutely essential step for the future of the country, because the annual uncertainty regarding the amount of salaries makes it unclear to those interested in this profession,” economist Daniel Münich is convinced that the state should really make it obligatory to maintain a clear value for teachers’ salaries.
The IDEA study, in which Münich participated, shows, among other things, that thanks to salary matching, schools are interesting employers for beginning teachers. More than half of them earn more than their college-educated peers. This flattering statistic, however, turns against those in their 30s and 40s in education. At this age, careers are more successful in the business sphere. According to the authors of the study, the Ministry of Education must push to maintain salaries so that people in this productive age do not run away from education.
“The government has approved a draft law enshrining, among other things, the ratio of the salary of teaching staff to the average wage in the national economy with the proposed effect from 1 January 2024. With this step, the government fulfills its program statement and will be obliged for the year 2024, but also for the following years, the corresponding volume of financial funds to ensure. Regarding the remuneration of school workers in 2023, that will only be the subject of the government’s discussion in the month of September,” even Minister of Education Vladimír Balaš (STAN) is not going to outline his idea of salary increases yet.
If the government’s promise were to be reflected in salaries next year, it would cost public budgets an extra 31 billion crowns. And this at a time when this year’s state treasury balance is headed for a deficit of 330 billion.
Therefore, the school unions are coming up with an offer to gradually increase the salaries of teaching staff, so that they reach 130 percent only in 2025. At that time, their salary should reach 62,000 crowns, with an average salary of almost 48,000, as predicted by the Ministry of Finance. Next year, their level should increase by 15 percent, in 2024 by 10 percent, and finally another 7 percent would be added. In total, this would increase spending on the salaries of teaching staff by 50 billion crowns over the course of three years.