It's widely believed that a good education system is the core of every prosperous country. To get a good education, however, you need qualified teachers. In the Czech Republic, good teachers often leave schools to take better paid jobs, as they can't make ends meet on a teacher's monthly salary. More from Lucie Krupickova:
In 1998, when the Social Democrat government came to the power, they claimed that by the year 2002, teachers' wages would rise to 30 percent above the average salary throughout the country. Two years later, teachers´ salaries have in general only exceeded the average monthly salary by about 8 percent.
The average monthly salary for primary-school teachers is currently around 13 thousand Czech crowns, or just over three hundred dollars, which is the same as the average monthly salary in the Czech Republic. In secondary schools, teachers receive about a thousand Czech crowns more and in universities, the average monthly salary totals 16 thousand Czech crowns.
According to the chairman of the Teacher's Union, Jaroslav Rossler, roughly one third of teachers, however, receive only 7 thousand Czech crowns a month, which is slightly above half the average Czech monthly wage.
For 2001 the Social Democrat government and the trade unions have agreed on a wage increase of 1,250 Czech crowns, or thirty dollars, a month for teachers. As Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said recently, the increase would affect only good teachers, but has not revealed which criteria would be used to judge good teachers. Education Minister Eduard Zeman, nevertheless, has given assurances that all teachers should receive an increase of some sort.
When young teachers start working in the Czech Republic, they receive only about 40 percent of the salary of their colleagues in West European countries. After 15 years of practice the difference is even worse; the salary drops to 36-38 per cent of a similar job in OECD-countries.
In the Czech education system, there's not only a shortage of funds for teachers, but also for teaching aids. Paradoxically, Czech Education Minister Eduard Zeman has been striving to provide all schools with Internet access. Some schools, however, cannot afford such a 'luxury', as they lack the money to buy basic supplies such as coloured pencils or exercise books.
In roughly four years time, in September 2004, so-called career regulations should be introduced in the Czech Republic, as part of a new education law. According to the new rules, teachers should not be paid only based on their age and experience, but also according to their willingness to attain further self-education. Teachers would be encouraged to develop skills in creating education programmes, preparing tests for schoolchildren, or even running schools. By enhancing their qualifications, the career regulations would enable younger teachers to get a decent salary as well.