TALLINN - If there were between 54-100 high schools instead of 220 in Estonia, the result of all that re-organization could mean an increase of teachers’ wages by 30 percent, Prime Minster Andrus Ansip said in the Riigikogu, reports Aripaev Online. If the number of teachers had been kept in line with the number of pupils, the wages of teachers would be 50 percent higher now, he added.
Ansip stressed that a school reform and re-organization of the network of schools is vitally necessary and the process should start from the upper secondary schools.
Estonian schools generally are either 9-year comprehensive schools, or 12-year schools with both the comprehensive school level and 3-year upper secondary school level. There are also separate 3-year secondary school level schools and the state has taken a direction to increase the number of those.
Ansip added that the education ministry has started working out proposals to re-organize the school network, which aims at both increasing the quality of education and paying proper wages to teachers.
An estimated 1,500 teachers or more from all over Estonia, evidently not satisfied with the progress, convened on Tuesday in front of the Riigikogu building to demand a 20 percent wage increase for teachers, reports National Broadcasting.
Some of the protesters of the peaceful event carried slogans like “Education in Estonia – a priority or not?”, “Teacher – golden sponsor of the Riigikogu,” “No to discount education!”, “Average teacher’s wage in Estonia is 640 euros, in Greece 1,900 euros. Decision: let’s help Greece!”
The mood of the event was positive and peaceful as, for two hours, speeches took place and at the end of the meeting one MP asked teachers to visit the parliament building, which some of them did, reports Postimees Online.
The demonstration took place a day before the Riigikogu was to start discussing next year’s state budget. The Estonian Education Employees Union has applied for raising the minimum wage for teachers by 20 percent next year. The government has so far said there won’t be a general wage increase for teachers.