Increased average salaries of teachers are largely achieved by overburdening

The average salaries of teachers have grown faster than the average salaries overall in Estonia; if the current trend continues, these would reach 120% of the national average in 2024. However, higher salaries often include overtime or extra work, which means that Estonian teachers are overburdened, shows the Foresight Centre report “Teachers’ salaries”.

Õpetaja klassis

Expert of the Foresight Centre Eneli Kindsiko explained that the average salary of teachers showed the competitiveness of the profession on the labour market. “Teachers’ salaries need to be compared to alternatives that require similar qualifications. For example, basic school and upper secondary school teachers are required to have a master’s degree, and yet the average teacher’s salary only forms 82% of the average salary of master’s degree graduates in Estonia. This shows that the teaching profession is not competitive on the labour market. It is also important to note that a large part of teachers in Estonia take on more work than their standard burden and that their salaries often include additional remuneration for the extra work,” Kindsiko emphasised.

In 2022, the average salary in Estonia was EUR 1,685, and the average teacher’s salary was EUR 1,724, which formed 102% of the Estonian average. The 2023 pay rise should take teacher’s salaries to 113% of the Estonian average.

In county comparison, teachers make the highest salary compared to the county average in Hiiu County. Their salary is 44% above the county average. Valga County comes second with 37%, and Võru County third with 25%.

The report by the Foresight Centre shows that the average teacher’s salary in Estonia is below the EU 27 average. As of the 2020–2021 school year and adjusted to the cost of living, teachers make the most in Luxembourg, Germany, and Denmark. Their salaries are the lowest in Latvia, Slovakia, and Hungary. “Estonia enjoys one of the most efficient education systems in the world, which means that our high PISA scores are achieved on a relatively modest remuneration. This means a high risk of burnout. We are in the same boat with Poland,” Kindsiko warned.

The Education Sector Development Plan 2021–2035 has set the objective of paying teachers in general education and vocational education institutions 120% of the Estonian average. “On a positive note, if the growth of the recent years continues, we would achieve the objective as early as 2024,” the expert of the Foresight Centre said.

Yet the 2023 election programmes of parties laid out even more ambitious goals, such as taking teachers’ average salaries to 130% of the national average, or paying EUR 3,000 to worthy teachers. “Should the current trend continue, we would arrive at the EUR 3,000 average salary in 2029, and to 130% of the average salary also in 2029,” Kindsiko predicted.

The brief report “Teachers’ salaries” is part of the Foresight Centre research into “The future of the teaching profession”. The Foresight Centre is a think tank at the Riigikogu that analysis socio-economic trends and builds future scenarios. The Centre researches a range of topics in order to anticipate emerging trends and potential disruptions.

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