Dissatisfied doctors can confirm this. Their threat to cancel voluntary overtime in hospitals contributed to another series of negotiations with the Minister of Health. That way, they can still hope to earn adequate money in the future without having to report hundreds of hours of overtime.
School unions intend to follow a similar path. After studying the draft state budget for next year, they understood that it lacked enough money for the salaries of cooks, janitors, economists, assistants and other people who hide under the collective name of non-pedagogical workers.
It is not the only decrease in finances. Even before that, there were cuts in the money intended for the purchase of aids. In the near future, financial resources should be sought in the reduction of the number of teachers. Not to mention dissatisfaction with the remuneration of university teachers. Measured by money, the concrete actions are somewhat at variance with the words that education is one of the priorities of this government.
The power of protest
School unions are about to make a loud reminder of that. They announced a warning strike at the end of November. Only concrete participation in it can clearly show whether dissatisfaction with the government’s approach to education is as great as the unions indicate.
So far, it doesn’t look like all kindergartens, primary and secondary schools have joined the protest. In some places, support for the strike may be only symbolic. Also, the public’s reaction so far concerns more concern about who will take care of the children during the protest than interest in the cause of its action.
At the same time, the tone of the strike depends on how seriously politicians will take the demands. Although they would not have to reach too deep into their pockets to fulfill them. The sum of around five billion crowns may seem dizzying at first glance. However, this is a negligible amount within the framework of the planned expenditures of the state budget for next year, which exceed the threshold of two trillion crowns. Five billion is just a drop in the ocean.
However, it must flow into the education chapter from another part of the state budget. Minister Mikuláš Bek should convince the coalition partners of this. The proposal is in the House and there is still room for a partial transfer of money. Success will also depend on the strength of the protest and the real threat of its repetition.
Regardless, the future of education in the Czech Republic should not be based on the ability to speak up at a moment when conditions for education threaten to deteriorate. Sufficient funds guaranteed by the government should be one of the basic prerequisites for moving the Czech Republic towards an advanced society of the 21st century.
The author is a commentator on Czech Radio