The government is breaking promises. Sacrifices teachers’ salaries, children and the future of the Czech Republic

The government of Petr Fiala wants to cut CZK 9 billion from the salaries of the education sector led by Education Minister Mikuláš Bek. It promised a significant increase.

ANALYSIS. The draft education budget foresees cuts of 12 billion. Teachers will not receive the salaries the government promised them, but will instead see their salaries fall even further. The educated society of new ideas, as one of the pillars of the future Czech Republic, is collapsing.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) wants the Czech Republic to become a crossroads of Europe. One of the main pillars should be education.

“The Czech Republic must be a centre of education and new ideas within ten years,” the Prime Minister said at a conference entitled “The Czech Republic at the Crossroads”.

But the government’s proclamations do not match the reality of the state budget. According to the latest draft, the Education Ministry is to lose CZK 11.6 billion compared to this year. All this at a time when there are more and more children in schools, and not just refugees from Ukraine. Costs are logically rising.

Education Minister Mikuláš Bek (STAN) claims that during the last negotiations he has already ensured that the education budget will not decrease at all and may even increase a bit, but in practice it appears that the situation with education as a government priority will not be as serious.

A simple indicator is teacher salaries. Of course, they alone cannot ensure that children will be accompanied on their educational journey by quality and motivated teachers. But without decent salaries, we can only dream of a “centre of learning and new ideas”.

“The relative level of teachers’ salaries determines who goes on to study at the Faculty of Education or in the teaching profession. So we are playing for people who are going to come into education in five to seven years. But they must not change their minds about entering education when salaries have fallen back to desperately low levels,” says Daniel Münich, a member of the government’s National Economic Council and director of the think tank IDEA.

Promises, promises, promises

They won’t keep that promise either. It was supposed to be ensured by an amendment to the Teaching Staff Act, but government MPs changed the wording at the last minute, watering down the commitment. Even the extra three thousand euros for teachers, which Education Minister Bek promised to MPs for next year, will not change that.

“In the 20 years I have been president of the union, I have never seen any government put schools, principals and teachers in such a situation. I understand that some measures are needed at the moment, but when the government has said that education and the army are a priority for it, and they will feed the army, but they will ignore us, it is absolutely irresponsible and unsolidary,” angers education union chairman Frantisek Dobšík.

When Seznam Zprávy inquired why the law was amended, it was suggested by MPs that in times of austerity, teachers must also cut back. In addition to them, the government also intends to save money on teaching assistants, whose loss is expected in many schools in the coming years. In real terms, the promised 130 per cent of teachers’ salaries is likely to be based on the year before last.

Long live the tables!

However, the debate about teachers’ salaries is often shouted down in the public sphere. While mainstream society crows that teachers are doing so well with all the holidays, teachers complain that they can’t afford the average salary. Last year, by the way, according to the Ministry of Education, the gross salary for all teachers – including those in kindergartens, for example – was CZK 48 204.

How is it then? First of all, a banal statement that often disappears in debates about salaries. The average is simply the average. Its essence is that not everyone can reach it. Now for the specifics. It is possible to analyse teacher salaries very accurately from data from the Ministry of Education. However, it is based on slightly different figures, so for the sake of illustration we take the average salary of teachers only at the second level of primary school, which is CZK 48 261.

The vast majority of the amount – 79 per cent – is made up of the salary scale and holiday and sick pay. The total is about 38,000 gross. For teachers, as for other civil servants, earnings are mainly based on the salary table. In it, they are graded according to the complexity of the work (teachers most often grade 12) and by seniority. This year, a complete novice will earn less than 33,000, while a matador with 32 or more years of experience will earn 10,000 more.

The remaining 20 percent is made up of bonuses and bonuses. That’s two different categories. Let’s break down the most common ones. A teacher can receive a regular monthly personal allowance if the principal thinks he or she is doing a quality job. On top of that there is a special allowance, most often for classroom teachers, which ranges from 1500 to 3000 crowns. There is also an additional payment for direct teaching activities, simply for substitute teaching. In total, it is another four thousand crowns.

And finally, remuneration. Teachers usually receive them at the end of the year, when the principals run out of money. Sometimes even in half-term. In the Czech environment, there is chaos, because principals often have to pay for various expenses, such as non-teaching staff, aids or sick leave.

However, if the remuneration is budgeted over the whole year, then a second-level teacher gets about CZK 6 000 a month. Teachers often forget about this money in debates about average salaries. The extraordinary remuneration appears on their pay slip once or twice a year, but it also makes up the average gross monthly salary for the whole year.