RIGA - Over the past four years, financing for teachers' salaries has been increased on an annual basis, but giving more and more money is not a sustainable option because we are dealing with a generally unreformed system here, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) said in an interview with Latvian Radio on Thursday.
The prime minister said that the education system must be reformed and that Education and Science Minister Anda Caksa (New Unity) is working on regulations that will help local governments to take necessary decisions to reform the school system, thereby providing more spare money for teachers' salaries. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that good education is available to everyone, Karins said.
"The question is not whether the teachers' salaries will be growing - the question is what will be the source of the financing. The source of the money is the reform of the system. We cannot afford to pour more money into an ineffective system, it has to be fixed," Karins said, voicing hope that associations of education professionals will choose to cooperate with the Education and Science Ministry.
Last year, an agreement was reached with the teachers that nearly EUR 100 million worth of budget funds will be earmarked for their salaries this year, which is the steepest increase yet.
The prime minister admitted, however, that he was not sure that an agreement with the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA) will be reached in a month to avert a teachers' strike. Karins also does not believe that the strike will make any difference because in any case the government is determined to go ahead with the school reform.
"The trade unions must realize that without the reform further pay rises will not be possible," the prime minister said.
As reported, LIZDA has given the government until March 15 to meet the union's demands, threatening to call a nationwide strike of teachers from April 24 if the demands are not met.