Experts: Increased teacher salaries largely achieved through overburdening
If the current trend continues, by 2024 teacher pay will reach 120 percent of the national average. However, teachers in Estonia are overworked as a result of the fact that higher pay often requires overtime or more work, according to an expert evaluation, "Teachers' salaries," published by the Foresight Center.
Eneli Kindsiko, an expert from the Foresight Center, an independent think tank at the Riigikogu, said that the average income of teachers showed the competitiveness of the profession on the labor market.
"Teachers' salaries need to be compared to alternatives that require similar qualifications. For example, basic school and upper secondary school teachers are required to have a master's degree, and yet the average teacher's salary only forms 82 percent of the average salary of master's degree graduates in Estonia. This shows that the teaching profession is not competitive on the labor market. It is also important to note that a large part of teachers in Estonia take on more work than their standard burden and that their salaries often include additional remuneration for the extra work," Kindsiko emphasized.
In 2022, the average salary in Estonia was €1,685, and the average teacher's salary was €1,724, which formed 102 percent of the Estonian average. The 2023 pay rise should take teacher's salaries to 113 percent of the Estonian average.
In county comparison, teachers make the highest salary compared to the county average in Hiiu County. Their salary is 44 percent above the county average. Valga County comes second with 37 percent and Võru County third with 25 percent.
The report by the Foresight Center shows that the average teacher's salary in Estonia is below the EU 27 average. As of the 2020–2021 school year and adjusted to the cost of living, teachers make the most in Luxembourg, Germany, and Denmark. Their salaries are the lowest in Latvia, Slovakia and Hungary.
"Estonia enjoys one of the most efficient education systems in the world, which means that our high PISA scores are achieved on a relatively modest remuneration. This means a high risk of burnout. We are in the same boat with Poland," Kindsiko said.
The Education Sector Development Plan 2021–2035 has set the objective of paying teachers in general education and vocational education institutions 120 percent of the Estonian average.
"On a positive note, if the growth of the recent years continues, we would achieve the objective as early as 2024," the expert said.
Yet the 2023 election programs of parties laid out even more ambitious goals, such as taking teachers' average salaries to 130 percent of the national average, or paying €3,000 to worthy teachers.
"Should the current trend continue, we would arrive at the EUR 3,000 average salary in 2029 and to 130 percent of the average salary also in 2029," Kindsiko explained.
The brief report "Teachers' salaries" is part of the Foresight Center research into "The future of the teaching profession". The Foresight Center is a think tank at the Riigikogu that analysis socioeconomic trends and builds future scenarios. The center researches a range of topics in order to anticipate emerging trends and potential disruptions.
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Editor: Kristina Kersa