Teachers' starting salaries: not attractive
A recent European survey shows the disparities between teachers' salaries within the EU and notices that Luxembourger teachers are the best paid in Europe.
Last 5 October, the World Teachers' Day was celebrated on the initiative of UNESCO.
Like every year since 1994, the event honors the profession and promotes international standards for the teaching profession.
The 2011 edition was dedicated to teachers for gender equality. "Despite the teaching profession being made up largely of women, inequality remains an issue. Even if measures to ensure equality are enshrined into the policies and constitutions of many states, for millions of female teachers, the goals remain unfulfilled," the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization explained.
A day before and to coincide with the event, the Commission's Eurydice network published a report , which compares the salaries of public-sector teachers and school heads in 27 EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey. The survey compiled data based on the 2009/10 school year, and that cover pre-primary to upper secondary education. The Union currently counts six million teachers.
The study notices first that teachers' starting salaries are not that attractive: "In almost all European countries, gross basic salaries for teachers entering the profession are lower than national GDP per capita - and their pay will not even double over the course of their working lifetime, except in a handful of Member States," it details.
The best paid are in Luxembourg
According to its authors the best paid teachers in the European Union work in Luxembourg, Denmark and Austria. The least well-paid are in Bulgaria and Romania.
Hence at primary level Luxembourgisch teachers receive an annual average wage of around 88.000 euros. At upper secondary level they earn circa 101.500 euros. Indeed these figures make them the best paid teachers in the Union.
In Bulgaria however, the teachers' highest average annual wage at both the primary and upper secondary level is of 4 300 euros. In the Union, they are of 21 500 euros (primary level) and 23 100 euros (upper secondary)
Lower than national GDP per capita
More generally, Eurydice shows that at the beginning of their careers, teachers' gross basic salaries are lower than national GDP per capita in all countries with the exception of Germany, Spain and Portugal. Only in three countries (Cyprus, Portugal and Romania) is is possible for teachers to double their basic salaries during their career.
However, even there it takes more than 20 years to progress to the top salary scale, the survey details, whereas in Luxembourg it takes 25 years to a teacher to reach the maximum income provided by the system.
However, a wide range of allowances are available in most European countries, in addition to basic salaries. "But only half of the countries award specific allowances for further professional qualification and excellence in teaching," the network tempers. Actual teacher salaries, including add-ons, are close to the top of the pay scale in many countries. This is due to an ageing teacher population and the allowances that teachers may receive. In Denmark (61 804 euros), Greece (22 817 euros), Finland (44 775 euros) and England (35 580 euros), teachers' take-home pay is on average higher than the top pay scale due to these allowances.
Purchasing power preservation
Despite the recession indeed many of the countries have adjusted the salaries of their teachers to the rising cost of living. However, in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Romania these remained in 2009-2010 unchanged. In Luxembourg, the last salaries increase was in 2008/2009.
"In general, teachers in Europe maintained their purchasing power in 2009 and the economic crisis had an impact on their salaries in only a few countries in 2010 (Ireland, Greece, Spain, Latvia and Romania). During the same period, the Netherlands and Poland increased teachers' salaries," the report recalls. However, more recent and forthcoming austerity measures in many countries may affect teachers' salaries and overall spending on education, the document warns. Nevertheless, many European governments are placing the education sector at the core of their reform programmes.
The Eurydice Network provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies. As from 2011 it consists of 37 national units based in all 33 countries participating in the EU's Lifelong Learning programme (EU Member States, EFTA countries, Croatia and Turkey). It is co-ordinated and managed by the EU Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency in Brussels, which drafts its studies and provides a range of online resources.
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