Latvia: Does the new teachers’ pay system contribute to improvements?


Representatives of the Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA), affirm that the Ministry of Education and Science has taken into account only a few of the 24 submitted  proposals regarding the new pay system, ignoring a number of the union's proposals.

Ilze Priževoite, LIZDA's expert on social economic issues says: "Since 1 September 2009 teachers' salaries have been calculated according to the funding system to schools of Latvia: "money-follows-the student". In this funding system the budget for teachers' salaries is allocated by the Ministry to the municipalities/local governments according to the number of students within the municipality. Then, the municipalities transfer the allocated money to the schools. It results in significantly different salaries for the same work, and the money earned depends by teacher on school size. Therefore, schools and municipalities compete with each other to attract more students. This pay system is unfair and discriminatory towards students because it does not provide equal opportunities to quality education, nor to extended day (afterschool) groups, opportunities to practice leisure activities; on top it results in crowded classes. The current pay system prevents adequate salary processing, that is to say, regardless the type and size of the education institution. It leads to the closure of small schools, job loss and salary diversification between teachers working in big, medium or small schools".

The Ministry of Education and Science has initiated the introduction of a new teachers' pay system in 2016. However, the new regulations are to be developed immediately.

"On 6 March 2015, the Ministry of Education and Science received the seventh draft version of the regulation from the Cabinet of Ministers. LIZDA has actively participated in all working group meetings and we have been expressing our point of view and well-grounded objections. Unfortunately LIZDA's opinion has not been taken into account. LIZDA is against the hasty introduction of a new system. Furthermore, LIZDA continues the dialogue with the Ministry in order to avoid the problems identified during the test phase of the system which badly affect quality education,"says Ilze Priževoite.

Priževoite underlines that in the framework of the new system, teacher pay system is based on 36 working week model. Teachers of some subjects might have more contact hours than in the present system; the number of hours dedicated to lesson preparation and planning, correction of students' works; and at the same time the number of hours for the individual work with students and consultations are not adequately planned. Moreover, the preschool teachers' salaries are lower than the salaries of secondary school teachers, irrespective of the same level of education and qualification. Besides, in the new system the minimum monthly salary for the academic personnel is planned to be lower than in general education and vocational education and training (VET). Teachers are not satisfied with the new model of teacher salaries.

"The pay system proposed by the Ministry of Education does not resolve the problem of adequate remuneration in the education sector. Besides, if the government wants quality education it should guarantee adequate salaries for teachers and support personnel (librarians, speech therapists, psychologists, teachers' assistants, etc.) in every education institution, regardless its location and size, and type of education. Excessive workload of education staff leads to burnout, stress, and partially completed work. The school funding system is not transparent, and it seems that it rather focuses on decreasing the number of schools and on reducing the number of teachers than on salary increase," concluded Ilze Priževoite.