Minister: Agreement needed on teacher's salaries and school reform

The warning strike at Kiili High School, Harju County.
The warning strike at Kiili High School, Harju County. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The government will continue the discussion about teachers' salaries on Thursday and the coalition is divided on the issue. Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Eesti 200) believes an agreement on salary support, school reform, and teachers' working conditions and career paths is needed.

Social Democratic Party Chairman Lauri Läänemets emphasized on Wednesday's online broadcast "Otse ujustemajast" that the government must find a solution to teachers' salaries – and quickly.

"Teachers' salaries must go up, and the salaries of rescue workers and policemen must go up too. What this means is that as soon as the government takes this up, as soon as the Minister for Education and Research has made her proposal, the Social Democrats will say yes, we have to solve the labor dispute, yes, we have to find the money for salaries," Läänemets said.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said next year's budget and budget strategy are finalized. No new decisions can be made before next August.

"The agreement must still be in line with the national budget strategy. The state cannot promise something for which there is no money. These things go hand in hand, so we have to be able to deliver on these promises," she said.

In order for teachers' salaries to reach 120 percent of the average salary by 2027, more than €140 million are needed. Kaja Kallas said teachers' salaries need to rise then money most be found elsewhere in the education sector.

"The money is there. The question is what we use it for. The Minister of Education was at the budget negotiations every day. She got practically everything that she asked for in the budget and she knows very well what the positions are and she knows very well that we cannot make promises that we do not have the money for," the prime minister said.

Minister of Education Kristina Kallas (Estonia 200) said: "When we say that we have an education expenditure of 6 percent of GDP, the Ministry of Education's own budget lines are very small. There's a big chunk allocated in other places. If we were to talk about raising education spending on teachers' salaries more than it is today, the fact that the Minister of Education does something about it in their budget line will not solve the problem."

SDE's Riigikogu faction chairman and former Minister of Education Jevgeni Ossinovski described the situation as tense but said the coalition will not collapse over the issue.

"Leaving aside the emotional part of the debate, it is clear that the government must make the necessary decisions to allow education to continue. This is a shared responsibility of all partners in government and I hope that this responsibility will be shared," said Ossinovski.

Kristina Kallas has submitted a memorandum with three points to the government for discussion.

"We need an agreement on wage subsidies, we need an agreement on school reform, and we need an agreement on teachers' working conditions and career paths. I hope we can discuss this in Cabinet tomorrow," she said.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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