Politicians have roughly two weeks left to avert a strike at primary, secondary and kindergarten schools. The trade unionists announced it with the aim of getting more money for education. At the same time, almost four billion crowns more than this year should be spent on education next year. So where is the problem?
What you will also hear in today’s episode at 5:59
- Why is there a school strike coming up, even though the money in education is increasing.
- How the Ministry of Education’s savings can affect the functioning of schools.
- If it is realistic that the department can still manage to move billions in the state budget.
On the last Monday in November, children in Czech schools will probably not learn much new things. It was precisely on November 27 that the school unions called an all-day warning strike, which concerns primary, secondary and kindergarten schools. It is not yet clear how many schools will actually participate in it. But the mood is often excited.
“I spoke to a number of primary and secondary school principals. I was a little surprised that they are really combative,” says the Seznam Zpráv reporter Josef Maci, who has been working in the field of education for a long time. In an interview with the 5:59 podcast, he adds that there is a growing number of schools where teachers and management have run out of patience and no longer want to tolerate the announced savings.
At the same time, a cursory glance at the planned budget of the Ministry of Education does not encourage skepticism. According to the proposal, which is currently in the House of Representatives, the department is to receive 269 billion crowns, i.e. less than four billion more than this year. In addition, teachers’ salaries are also to be increased. But this is exactly where the problem is from the point of view of numbers. The package for teachers’ wages will increase by 8.5 billion crowns. In total, roughly four and a half billion are missing.
So when some government politicians – such as the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka (KDU-ČSL) – expressed surprise at the announcement of the strike and referred to the increase in teachers’ salaries, according to the reporter Mačí, they apparently did not understand the union’s move. “The strike is not about wages. It is generally about the quality of education, about the quality of education,” explains the journalist.
Where the missing billions will show up
If there is no “spillover” of money from other areas of the state budget, the Ministry of Education will have to save billions somewhere. And this should mainly concern so-called non-pedagogical workers in education.
Josef Mačí calculates that there would be a lack of money for 17,000 such positions – for cooks, janitors, housekeepers or even “grandfathers”. In reality, eight thousand places are unoccupied, but even so, this means that about nine thousand people are at risk due to the savings.
The Ministry of Education is facing criticism due to possible savings
The outage could significantly affect the functioning of some schools. “To put it simply and simply, to have someone in the schools to clean, cook, fix a broken tap or fix a computer network. These are basic things that every school needs,” Mačí points out. In addition, schools would also feel the effects of the elimination of vacant positions, since the money for these positions often increases the wages of existing employees.
Directors could perhaps seek help from municipalities or regions. The Seznam Zpráv journalist reminds us that many municipalities have problems financing themselves, let alone paying another person in the local school.
A problem for above-average schools
However, from the next school year, the savings could also affect the number of teaching hours (the so-called PHmax), which the Ministry of Education finances for schools. Primary schools by six percent, secondary schools by about 15 percent. And according to the reporter Mačí, it is true that many schools are not even able to teach all the lessons for which they are entitled to reimbursement, but there are also those that are above average.
“These are mostly the innovative schools that try to provide students with the best possible support, such as tandem teaching and lots of opportunities to profile yourself,” the journalist says. Newly, they would have to cut back on working hours. At several dozen secondary schools, it could even be five or more dismissed teachers.
Minister Bek’s difficult task
Minister of Education Mikuláš Bek (STAN) still wants to act. Both with union representatives and with their colleagues in the government. Convincing about the further increase of the school budget, however, will not be an easy mission for Bek. He needs to persuade the coalition partners to make concessions.
The state budget for next year is practically ready. “It will now only be possible to trade between individual resorts. So when you want to add to the Ministry of Education, you have to take away from someone else. And it must be said that the Ministry of Education is in a plus, it is one of those that were not taken care of. If he asks for more, it will be difficult to explain politically,” adds reporter Mačí.
In the 5:59 podcast, you will also learn how the strike could specifically affect the functioning of schools or where Czech education is actually headed. Listen to it in the player at the beginning of the article.
Editor a koeditor: Robert Candra, Matěj Válek
Sound design and music: Martin Hůla
Sources of audio samples: archive of reporter Josef Mačí’s News List, News List – podcast I ask, Government of the Czech Republic (vlada.cz)
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