Prague, Jan 12 (CTK) – The Czech education sector budget should be increased by approximately 50 billion crowns within the next four years, Education Minister Robert Plaga told journalists on Friday after a meeting with the school trade unions and PM Andrej Babis (both ANO).

The trade unions presented Babis a petition for increasing the quality of conditions in education, which demands that teachers’ pay be raised and expenses on education rise by one third.

Plaga said they were discussing the need of increasing the salaries gradually.

In its policy statement, the new Czech ANO minority cabinet pledges to increase teachers’ salaries to 150 percent of their current level by 2021.

School trade unions head Frantisek Dobsik says this corresponds roughly to the unionists’ demand for raising them to 130 percent of the average salary by 2020. The national average pay is currently over 29,000 crowns.

The unionists also told Babis they wanted the next education minister in a potential coalition cabinet, if the current cabinet did not receive confidence in the Chamber of Deputies, to be from his ANO movement as well. The Chamber is to vote on it on Tuesday.

The petition was signed by more than 23,000 people, mainly teachers.

The trade unions argue that the funding of Czech education should be comparable to that of advanced EU countries, which on average annually invest 6 percent of their GDP in it.

Teacher’s salaries were raised last November last year by 15 percent, and non-teaching school staff received a 10-percent raise.