The academic year started a month ago and teachers' salaries in Slovakia are back on the agenda. After Slovak teachers found that their salaries are the lowest in Central Europe, their only hope has been their EU Commissioner for Education Jan Figel, who has promised to push for a fair and high-quality education system in the European Union. But according to Slovak Education Minister Martin Fronc his efforts in cabinet during discussion on next year's state budget have paid off too:
"I had to fight a lot in the cabinet and I am glad that all the negotiations were not useless. I have to appreciate that the whole government has decided to support investment in education."
According to recent research it was about time, since Slovakia has lowest-paid teachers in Central Europe, or in the Visegrad Four countries. It's mainly good news for education faculty students, Slovakia's future teachers:
"I want to point out that we now have money for a significant increase of wages for young teachers who have just started at their jobs. And so next year the increase could be some 1,600 Slovak crowns."
1,600 crowns is some 40 Euros. In Slovakia, the average salary of a high school teacher is 14, 600 crowns, or about 365 Euros.
"If the rationalization goes well, then there should be some further increase in terms of personal bonuses."
The so-called rationalization is the most criticized aspect. It means closing and merging schools which is being done in a lot greater extent than in other V4 countries and yet the salaries remain lowest. And so it is no surprise that teachers take summer jobs abroad. Education Minister Martin Fronc says that some programs for smaller target groups, when it comes to education, were saved thanks to the increase in funding...
"First of all it is a special program for gifted children. We want to create a functioning system of classes for kids with high IQs. Then we should increase funds for foreign language teaching. And finally, this year we gave computers to all schools and we want to make sure they are used."
But when it comes to computer technology, the biggest problem is finding skilled teachers. College graduates who work in IT businesses have the highest basic salary among the most frequently advertised jobs and there is nothing that would motivate them to teach. IT teachers are therefore mostly part-timers. The average age of teachers with part-time work contracts in Slovakia is 45 years. Economists say the Education Ministry should harmonize the school system by employing younger teachers and minimizing the number of pensioners.
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