Education Minister promises teachers ten percent pay-rise


On Monday - the first day of the new school year - Czech teachers and other employees of the education system received some pleasant news, as the Education Minister, Eduard Zeman announced that they could expect a ten percent wage increase by the end of next year at the latest. According to statistics released by the Education Ministry, the current average salary among teachers is 13 336 Czech crowns (around 360 U.S. dollars). By Dita Asiedu.

Minister Zeman was speaking during a visit to a school close to the southern Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice, and said that estimates showed that the planned wage increase would cost the state two billion Czech crowns (a little over 54 million U.S. dollars). This has come as a surprise to many skeptics who believe that the state simply does not have the financial resources necessary to increase salaries, especially since just moments before Mr. Zeman's announcement, the Finance Ministry said that the state budget deficit had risen by two billion Czech crowns within the past month. According to Mr. Zeman, however, the promised wage increase is almost certain to happen. The government has voted in favour of it, and it has already been calculated into next year's state budget proposal. The only thing unresolved so far, Mr. Zeman said, was when exactly the wage increase would be introduced.

Earlier today, Dita Asiedu spoke to primary school teacher, Marta Kosmakova, to garner some reaction from the teachers to Mr. Zeman's plan:

"You know, it's not the first time so I'm not so optimistic but let's hope that it will get better. I think that it's a good time to tell teachers that they will get money because of the elections - it's good for the leading party." Have they promised money before?

"Yes, they increased one part and reduced the other. The basic salary was increased a little but the bonuses were cut down so in my case it was less money than before. It's always the same every year. When school starts, they write about teachers, about schools and about salaries they always promise us that it will become better, that we will get more money."

According to the Education Ministry, the average salary is about 13 336 Czech crowns per month...

"I would say that it is less. The salaries differ at primary schools, secondary schools and universities, so it could be the average. But it is not the money we get, it's their average, it's definitely less at the basic, primary schools."

What about the Czech people's attitude towards teachers? "When you work at a school, you like the job, you want to do it and you do not care about the money. You want to be respected as a teacher. I think that here in the Czech Republic, it doesn't work so well because people have a strange attitude towards teachers."

Because you're willing to work for less?

"Yes, when I say that I'm an English teacher, they say 'you teach for the little money you get?' and I tell them that I do it because I like the job and they think that I must be crazy because they think that I could do any other job that I want since I speak English."