On 27-28 March, 2018 a high level international conference took place in Sofia  organised jointly  by the Bulgarian Unions of Teachers, Ministry of Education and Science of Bulgaria, and ETUCE. The conference, entitled “Supporting young teachers as a tool of quality education – Attracting, recruiting, and training of effective entry-year teachers in education” focused on providing solutions on how to support young teachers.

Yanka Takeva, President of the Bulgarian Union of teachers welcomed the international and Bulgarian participants highlighting that teachers should be well-prepared and the profession should be attractive in order to motivate students to want to be teachers. Dimitar Manolov, President of PODKREPA CL added that not everyone can be a teacher because being a good teacher depends on the personality and heart not only on the qualifications.

Krashimir Valchev, Minister of Education and Science of Bulgaria underlined that the society depends on good teachers, therefore it is a must to invest to teachers of today and of tomorrow.

Christine Blower, President of ETUCE underlined that education is a human and civil right and a public good, and decent salary and working conditions for teachers  ensure the best learning environment for students.

The participants agreed that teachers new to the profession face the same challenges in recruitment and retention in the European countries. Austerity measures in education and insufficient funding continue to impact on education and on the status of teacher in society and consequently affect on attracting young people to the teaching profession. The profession is not only confronted with demographic change and low status it also often suffers from unattractive salaries, insufficient initial teachers’ training, low-quality of continuous professional development, insecurity of employment and short-term contracts while increasing workload and high administrative work render the profession difficult.

It was suggested that young teachers need support first of all by ensuring appropriate salary, decent working conditions for teachers while fairly distributed workload is critical. Initial teacher training needs to be updated to requirements of the students and the society and the induction phase should be of high quality. Teachers should be supported through adequate working environments that are conducive to professional and career development.  Continuous professional development courses should take place during working hours and be free of charge for teachers. In addition, teachers should have peers, mentors and networks of colleagues whom the can rely on for help.

Effective and equitable governance in supporting young teachers needs to be based on meaningful social dialogue. – said Susan Flocken, Director of ETUCE – “Young teachers have a role to play in education trade unions who continue to work towards good working condition for all teachers while proposing also different types of support, including training and information on training for teachers new to the profession. Support for young teachers should be set up in a structured way agreed via collective agreement.

The organisers and the participants adopted a Joint Conference Conclusions at the end of the conference. The document is available here

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