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Education ministry: Teacher pay to keep growing

Empty classroom (photo is illustrative).
Empty classroom (photo is illustrative). Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

Teacher salaries continue to rise in Estonia and the government also considers it important to raise the salaries of kindergarten teachers to the same level as those of school teachers, the Ministry of Education and Research said on Monday.

The number of teachers continues to be significantly higher than the number of posts, indicating that a significant proportion of teachers work part-time, which should change somewhat as the school network continues to be reorganized. More than 40 percent of teachers worked part-time in the last academic year, according to the ministry's review of the previous academic year, published on the eve of the start of the new school year on September 1. 

The survey shows that most of the changes in the general education school network are related to the reorganization or merging of schools. The activities of private schools are expanding and both new schools and school levels are being added to existing private schools.

Both the minimum salary and the average gross monthly salary for teachers of municipal schools have more than doubled since 2011. Over the past five years, the minimum salary of teachers in municipal schools and their average gross monthly salary have increased by 34 percent. The ratio of teacher positions to pupils is very low, having been around 12 students per teacher position in recent academic years.

Twenty and more years ago, the ratio used to be 19 students per teaching position. By the 2020/2021 academic year, the number of students per teacher position had decreased to the level of the academic year 2012/2013, when the ratio was the lowest in the period under review, meaning 11.9 students per teacher position.

In the last school year, both the number of teachers and the number of teaching posts had increased compared to a year earlier. Fluctuations in the numbers of teaching posts have had virtually no impact on the average workload, as teachers have been working with an average workload of 0.82-0.84 for the last 12 academic years. This shows that many teachers in general education schools work part-time. 

The TALIS international survey of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on teaching and learning, which focuses on teachers in grades 7-9, shows that many part-time teachers would like to work full-time. Working arrangements in schools depend on the human resources policy of the school principal and the school network policy of the authority that manages the school.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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