The new school year starts with uncertainty in the Czech Republic


The new school year starts in the Czech Republic with uncertainty. The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) reaffirms its unwavering support for its member organisation in the Czech Republic, ČMOS PŠ.  They take a stand against the challenges facing education in the country.

Despite education being a key electoral priority for the current government coalition, the start of this school year does not align with the promises made. The government has introduced an austerity package that has already left a significant mark on the education sector. Under the proposal by the finance ministry, the education budget for the year is set at 10, 3 billion EURO (CZK 253.4 billion), reflecting a reduction of around 471 million EURO (CZK 11.6 billion) from the previous year. This shortfall is in stark contrast to the original commitments made by the government to prioritise education, increase investment, and ensure teacher salaries are maintained at 130% of the national average wage.

Teachers have seen only a 6 % increase in their salaries this year. A figure far from what is necessary to fulfill the government's pledges. The relative salaries of teachers in the Czech Republic, when compared to the national average, have historically ranked among the lowest in Europe. While there was some improvement in 2021, the positive trajectory has reversed, leaving teacher salaries falling behind the growth of other economic averages. The relative pay of educators plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent in the teaching profession.  A critical aspect in addressing the chronic teacher shortages that have plagued the Czech Republic for years.

Furthermore, the Czech Republic has historically allocated a modest share of its GDP to education expenditure. Thanks to the efforts of education unions, investments in education have seen some improvement in recent years. However, government budget proposals now indicate a potential reduction in education spending as a proportion of GDP, accompanied by additional cuts.

Austerity measures also threaten non-teaching professions within the education sector, including the cancellation of tax-free union dues and benefits from employee cultural funds. These measures are met with strong opposition from school unions.

In response to these challenges, ČMOS PŠ, in collaboration with other professional associations in the education sector, has organised a protest action scheduled for Tuesday 12 September 2023. The primary objective of this demonstration is to force the government to honour its commitments to prioritise education and recognise the strategic significance of investing in the future of education.

ETUCE stands firmly behind ČMOS PŠ and its dedication to defending the rights and well-being of educators and the quality of education in the Czech Republic. In these uncertain times, it is crucial to uphold the values of a robust education system and ensure that educators are adequately supported and compensated for their essential work in shaping the future of the country.