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Teachers’ pay might start stagnating in years to come

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Prague, May 5 (CTK) – The Czech state might spend less money on teachers’ wages in the years to come than what the cabinet has promised, as a result of which they might not increase as originally planned, the public finance sector’s budget strategy which the government approved this week shows.

According to it, the self-rule regions, which operate elementary and secondary schools, are to get 11.5 billion crowns from the Education Ministry to cover a planned reform of the school system’s financing, but no further increase in the regional budgets is planned in connection with education.

The Finance Ministry, nevertheless, said on Saturday the state budget will offer enough money to raise the pay of teachers and other school workers.

Education Minister Robert Plaga (ANO) recently said he wants to achieve a budget increase by 36.5 billion crowns by 2021 as a step enabling to raise the school staff’s wages.

Nor does the budget strategy outline a higher spending on universities, which is 24.6 billion crowns now and it is to remain unchanged in spite of Plaga’s previous promise to raise it by nine billion crowns in the next three years.

Plaga said the money would be used to increase university teachers’ pay and also as investments in student hostels.

Filip Behal, from the Finance Ministry’s press department, told CTK on Saturday that the budget strategy defines the maximum public budget expenditures and also the maximum state budget deficit.

“Within the set limits, the government will prepare a budget outlining the reform of the school system financing and an increase in teachers’ wages up to 150 percent in 2021,” Behal told CTK.

Andrej Babis’s (ANO) minority government put an increase in teachers’ pay as one of the priorities in its policy statement late last year.

The Education Ministry said teachers’ average monthly pay should gradually rise to 46,000 crowns in 2021, from last year’s 31,632 crowns, which roughly corresponds to the average pay in the country.

Plaga said in March that he would try to gain additional 17 billion crowns for this purpose within the 2019 budget negotiations, and further 14.5 billion and five billion for 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Within the planned reform of the regional school system financing, which is to start as of January 2019 and to be covered from the sector’s 11.5-billion-crown budget increase, the subsidies going to schools will be based on the number of lessons they teach instead of their number of students, which is the case now.

As far as the financing of Czech universities is concerned, it is far below the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average, lagging by an annual eight to nine billion crowns behind it.

Rectors want the university sector’s budget to rise by three billion crowns each of the next three years, but the government’s budget strategy does not outline such an increase.

The Education Ministry’s budget for 2018 is projected at 175.4 billion crowns, which is 19.21 billion more than in 2017.

In spite of this, Plaga said this year’s budget needs an additional reinforcement due to the financially demanding inclusion in education project of handicapped children’s integration in mainstream schools. Plaga recently said that additional 1.2 billion crowns are needed in this respect, while regions speak of up to 2.5 billion crowns.

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