Despite the Czech school system maintaining a relatively strong position in international testing, the ratio of what the country’s teachers earn in comparison to other university graduates is among the lowest in the OECD. The government’s manifesto promises to increase the amount of investment in schooling, but it will likely be a long time before the effects become evident.
Graduates in the Czech education sector currently earn just two-thirds of the graduate average, according to an OECD study published this year.
The wage disparity is having an effect on the type of students entering the teaching profession in the Czech Republic, as Daniel Münich, an expert on education economics and CERGE-EI professor, explains.
“It causes a substantial and permanent shortage of well qualified teachers – the natural laws of the labour market work here. The profession is very unattractive for the young generation of potential teachers. There is therefore no selectivity based on quality. Everyone who wants to teach is taken. There is a low degree of competition among teachers.
“What is also very important is that the heterogeneity of young teacher quality is growing. So taking all of this together, the quality of future education in the Czech Republic is at stake.“
The news is worrying, but has not come out of the blue. Although not central, education was one of the important topics ahead of the 2017 parliamentary elections. Speaking before the confidence vote for his government in July 2018, Andrej Babiš set out a bold pledge.
“Education is an absolute priority for us. We will continue to support the education sector with more money, so that by the end of this election term in 2021 teacher salaries will have risen to an average of CZK 45 000 a month.“
This would be a considerable increase in comparison to the current levels which currently lie at around CZK 32 000 a month. However, Mr. Münich says the government has still not fully committed.
“A great deal of the strategy remains verbal. The promises still did not make it to the budgetary outlook for years 2020–2021 currently being debated in the Lower house of the Parliament together with the state budget proposal for 2019.”
If the CZK 30–40 billion necessary to bring the country’s teacher salaries up to the EU average are found, Mr. Munich warns that it will still be a long haul.
Just as the quality of the current system is very much supported by the amount of older teachers who entered the business before wage disparity became too big, so will the current incumbent generation remain teaching for years no matter whether the system is reformed or not.
Therefore significant improvement would only become visible after decades.