1,700 kindergarten teachers’ joint appeal to institute minimum wage publicly discussed in Cultural Affairs Committee

"Songbird" kindergarten in Tartu. (Postimees/Scanpix)
5/3/2016 1:45 PM
Category: News

The Cultural Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu will be discussing the joint appeal regarding kindergarten teachers’ pay at a public session today.

With the appeal, which had a total of over 1,700 signatures, kindergarten teachers relayed the message that they would like for the country’s preschool childcare institutions to be funded similarly to its municipal schools, and for a minimum wage to be instituted for kindergarten teachers, to be paid for from state budget funds, reported ERR’s television news.

According to MP Märt Sults, also the initiator of the appeal, the work done by kindergarten teachers deserves greater appreciation than it currently receives, and that the first step toward fairer treatment should be state-backed respectable wages.

The committee had met with representatives of various interest groups early last September, including a representative of the Estonian Kindergarten Teachers’ Union (ELAL), who had then proposed that the Riigikogu institute a national minimum wage for kindergarten teachers on par with that of basic and upper secondary school teachers.

The representative had also relayed the request that the funding of preschool childcare institutions be stipulated similarly to the funding of the country’s municipal schools.

Cultural Affairs Committee Chairman Laine Randjärv had commented in the fall that the committee would actively discuss the matter.

“State interference in local governments’ decision-making powers is certainly not justified, however it is necessary to seek opportunities and resources to, alongside the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, support local governments, so that they can do the best possible job in fulfilling essential functions,” explained Randjärv. She went on to note that appreciation of teachers could be improved upon at all levels and in all spheres of grade-school education.

The state currently financially supports local governments in establishing kindergarten and daycare facilities as well as helping fund teachers’ participation in continuing training and Estonian as a second language courses. Also in development is a plan to allow for all children to begin their basic education a year before starting basic school, which in Estonia currently begins with first grade.

Payment of kindergarten teachers’ wages, however, is currently the responsibility of local governments.

Editor: Aili Sarapik

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