A petition to draw attention to the vast differences across the nation in wages of kindergarten teachers, and the lack of a minimum rate, has collected 16,000 signatures.
A kindergarten teacher in the small eastern town of Kallaste earns a low 427 euros per month, only slightly above the minimum wage, while a teacher on Vormsi island, the other end of the spectrum, earns 1,132 euros, gross, Eesti Päevaleht reported.
The vast regional wage disparity among kindergarten teachers means richer municipalities often hire qualified teachers away from poorer local governments, who are in turn forced to hire teachers without special qualifications.
Kindergarten teachers want a similar system to schools where a minimum salary for a teacher is set by the state, which is currently 900 euros per month before tax. The state also pays local governments a certain figure each year for teachers' salaries, although municipalities may top that up. Currently local governments themselves have to find funding for kindergarten teachers.
The average salary for a teacher is today around the 1,000-euro mark, slightly above the national monthly gross average.
Editor: J.M. Laats