State budget 2020: Better life for Ukrainian teachers or things aren't that simple?

Author : Iryna Shostak

PM Honcharuk has said that the Cabinet of Ministers plans to significantly improve the situation of young teachers over the next few years
11:47, 14 November 2019

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During the presentation of the draft state budget for 2020 for the second reading, Prime Minister of Ukraine Oleksiy Honcharuk has said that the Cabinet of Ministers plans to significantly improve the situation of young teachers over the next few years, as well as to pay teachers the accidental benefits for the difference in the number of students that have not been paid for years. However, it would seem that the good intentions of the authorities were again negatively perceived by the teachers. Why such a reaction, what are the forecasts and is it possible to finally reach consensus?

At an extraordinary meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on November 3, the draft state budget for 2020 was adopted for second reading. One of his important expectations was the announced changes in the salaries of teachers, namely young teachers, called upon to encourage the best graduates of Ukrainian universities to go to work in the field of education. Also, the draft budget provided an additional 90,5 million USD to allow teachers for prestige. Indeed, as Minister of Education and Science Anna Novosad said during the presentation of the project, teachers were paid salaries by the number of children, much less than realistic, that is, the last four years teachers were underpaid.

In order to understand the negative moods among teachers, it is worth understanding the essence of these two theses, their premises, causes and realizing the possible consequences.

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Promotions for young teachers

Everyone knows that the problem of the unpopularity of work in the educational sphere lies is connected with the low level of remuneration in comparison with other specialties. It would be logical to take steps to encourage graduates to join the teaching staff of schools positively.

“We don’t know who exactly would receive these payments. After all, a decree or a draft decree has not yet been made public. The procedure for making these payments may stipulate conditions for the provision of financial assistance. This procedure may contain a single condition on the experience of teaching work up to 10 years , and it may also establish restrictions on the age or categories of workers, which means that it can be determined in order that payments are made to young workers who have not reached, for example, 25, 30, or 35. Certain categories of young specialists might be paid cash assistance, as officials at various meetings repeatedly emphasized the need to increase wages, primarily for educators, teachers, and preschool teachers, masters vocational training of educational institutions of vocational (vocational) education. In addition, the procedure for making payments to young teachers may also establish a requirement to work out in an educational institution for a certain time. Thus, today there are statements and intentions of the authorities to establish a financial allowance for young professionals from among teachers who have experience of up to 10 years, but specific criteria for making such payments can be discussed only after the publication of the relevant resolution," Viktoria Solominchuk, the legal adviser of the Kyiv city trade union organization Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, assures.

Another debatable issue, which could even divide teachers into two camps, is connected with the incorrect ratio of the salaries of a young teacher to a teacher of a senior qualification category. Indeed, now the difference in teachers' salaries is about 80-110 USD, and it might happen that young teachers might get a one-time allowance (800 USD), which frustrates the other teachers.

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“Most educational institutions have a few young teachers, and, as a result, 1-2 teachers for the entire institution will receive this 800 USD. Experienced teachers are outraged because they believe that this is disrespect for their work: they participate in conducting students’ contests and other activities, checking works, participate in the Small Academy of Sciences, provide mentoring for young teachers - and it turns out that there will be no prize for them," Serhiy, teacher of the highest category, notes.

In parallel, there is another debatable issue. First of all, it is necessary to increase the salary of young specialists in preschool institutions. A person receives some 165 USD, while the assistant teacher receives 140 USD! Such a big difference in salaries is explained by the fact that the salary of both the teacher and the kindergarten teacher is calculated using the tariff grid, where the former has a large number of allowances, surcharges, while the latter has only a few of them.

Therefore, if we are to discuss these and similar issues, it is worth starting with the specialists of preschool institutions. “Indeed, the wages of employees of preschool education institutions are one of the lowest. This issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible. There is a difference between the salaries of workers of various categories, so the salary should increase for all employees of educational institutions, both for young professionals and experienced teachers," said Viktor Solominchuk, legal adviser.

Bonus payable for prestige

The salary of a teacher depends on the size of the educational subvention, allocated from the state budget to local ones in order to pay salaries to employees of general and secondary education. These funds are calculated according to the formula for calculating educational subventions.

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According to the Law of Ukraine "On General Secondary Education," a classroom of a secondary school should have no more than 30 students. Most Ukrainian schools does not follow such a norm, especially in big overpopulated cities. As a result, there are classes with 36 and 38 people each — the load on the teacher increases (checking home assignments, increased difficulty in working, more documentation, increased voice loads). It is clear that the situation will be fundamentally resolved only when new educational institutions are built in order to relieve those institutions in which there is now an excess of planned fullness. However, one of the types of compensation for the teacher now could be some kind of surcharge or allowance for exceeding the fullness of classes and groups in educational institutions.

However, the situation with bonuses for prestige in Kyiv is actually much better than the situation in other regions of Ukraine, where the premium reaches only 5%. This is due to the fact that individual payments come from the local budget.

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What will happen next?

Today the salaries of high school workers and preschool teachers are paid according to the tariff scale.

Starting from August-September, many of those in power began to resent the fact that it was impossible to figure out the teacher’s salary, it was complicated and outdated. While the salaries of the MPs and ministers themselves also contain allowances (for working with documents, the complexity of the work, its direction).

The working group under the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Education, Science and Innovation has submitted the draft law "On full general secondary education," including the abolition of allowances and surcharges. A few weeks ago, a large-scale teachers’ protest rally, joined by the Kyiv Trade Union of Education and Science of Ukraine, was held; the protesters insisted on the implementation of Article 61 of the Law of Ukraine "On Education" - the government is obliged to gradually increase salaries to 4 living wages until 2023.

Given the situation in parliament, teachers are concerned about the fact that representatives of the Servant of the People (parliamentary mono-majority) party indicated that they would support the Committee’s decision, as specialists in their fieldwork there.

Related: Thousands of Ukrainian teachers on strike for decent salaries

Therefore, now all the teachers are only following the events, waiting for clarifications and final decisions on both issues (amendments to the bill "On full secondary education" and announced payments), which in both cases, according to officials, are designed to improve the situation of teachers.

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