TALLINN - At the government's press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that if she were a teacher, she would be faced with a difficult choice ahead of Friday's warning strike, because in addition to salary demands, the state's current contribution to education should also be taken into consideration.
"On the one hand, I would want to stand in solidarity with my colleagues and participate in the strike, but on the other hand, I would look at the numbers and acknowledge that last year, teachers' salaries increased by 24 percent, while in the private sector, the average wage growth was 10 percent. The majority of Estonians have not experienced such a wage increase," Kallas said.
The prime minister also highlighted that the coalition promised that teachers' salaries would rise to 120 percent of the Estonian average wage by 2027, but it is currently only the year 2023.
"I would also understand that the school network in Estonia needs to be reorganized, which would also give an opportunity to raise teachers' salaries and reduce their workload," she stated.
"I would probably also be aware that Estonia is among the top three countries in Europe in terms of contributions to education, and our spending on education is greater than that on security," Kallas said, adding that Estonia spends a total of 1.5 billion euros on education and research.
"Our government holds teachers in very high esteem, and teachers are the only public sector employees whose salaries will increase next year. Education is our national priority," Kallas added.