Teachers in Estonia have found that while their minimum monthly salary is set to increase somewhat next year, its rate of growth isn't sufficient. In order to attract younger teachers to an aging pool of teachers, the profession's minimum salary has to not just catch up to but also surpass the average wage in the next few years.
While teachers' minimum monthly salary increased at a rate of €100 per year in recent years, the planned increase for next year is €65, reported ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera.
According to Estonian Education Personnel Union board chairman Reemo Voltri, this is currently the least that they expected.
"Our internal bar, and the one set by our members, was that teachers' salaries cannot worsen in relative to the average wage," Voltri said. "And with this promised salary increase, this will be maintained — it won't get better, but it won't get worse either."
This year, teachers' minimum salary is equal to 89 percent of the average national wage, which is set to hold true next year as well. Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Centre) confirmed that if salaries are increasing elsewhere, teachers' wages have to be increased as well.
"The ambition, expectation and hope that kindergarten teachers, general education teachers and trade school teachers are more competitive is always greater, but as minister I believe that €65 is considerable," Reps said.
On the other hand, an issue affecting the profession is the fact that an unattractive salary isn't attracting new teachers. For example, there are currently twice as few teachers under the age of 30 as pension-aged teachers, and the trend continues to swing toward aging.
Voltri noted that recent years' salary increases has increased young people's interest in studying to become a teacher.
"Should this trend suddenly grind to a halt in relative to the national average and we send the signal that nothing is going to happen for the next three years after 2020, this [interest] will certainly drop again, and the result will be the quality of Estonian education starting to suffer," he stressed.
"What we want is for teachers' salaries to be above Estonia's national average," Reps said. "If the average wage has increased already, then we want for minimum wages to increase too." This will happen, she noted, when the economy grows at a sufficient rate.
This means that the government will not be providing a set deadline, and the demand for a salary increase for teachers will remain an issue for years to come.
Editor: Aili Vahtla