Decent salary should facilitate reinforcement of teacher status

If Belarusian teachers don’t gain respect and better salaries, the state will lose its best teaching staff
If Belarusian teachers don’t gain respect and better salaries, the state will lose its best teaching staff, noted the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, hearing a report on the university admittance campaign and preparations for the new academic year


Teacher status acquires new meaning

“The issue of the status of pedagogical workers, and especially the status of school teachers, is no longer just a public concern. It has become a political issue, for various reasons. Teachers have always had a hard mission to accomplish. Teachers have never been rich; they are not exactly rich today. However, we want them to carry a great burden, including a political burden. If we look at the parliamentary elections or the recent presidential elections and ask ourselves who represented the main political nucleus carrying out the core political campaign, we’ll see that it was teachers, doctors, and civil servants who did so. At present, these categories of the population, who ensure stability in our country, may be offended for no good reason, especially school teachers,” said the President.

The Head of State remarked that he dislikes populist decisions, such as raising salaries for teachers. He stated, “I don’t want to look at the problem from this angle. I want a different view: the situation with salaries for teachers can no longer be tolerated. Teachers should do the work they need to do, but they also need decent salaries. We won’t lose teachers; they won’t leave. However, we are allowing the best specialists to quit the education system, primarily secondary schools. We’re losing the best teachers.”

He underlined the imbalance between male and female teachers and stressed that it’s related to salary. “Men are traditionally the breadwinners of the family. If the man of the family is a teacher, he cannot feed his family with this salary. This is why women teach while men find better paid jobs. In this way, we lose the male teaching element, which cannot be good,” the Head of State is convinced.

Mr. Lukashenko concluded that the status of Belarusian teachers needs to be improved. “Of course, improvement primarily relies on teachers themselves. Let’s raise their status, placing teachers as key players in the countryside and in the city, but particularly in the countryside,” the President added. “The state should lend its shoulder. It’s bad when teachers in good or average agricultural enterprises receive half the salary of a tractor driver or a dairy worker. It’s abnormal. It’s the central issue. However we deceive ourselves, whatever we may say, teachers don’t complain about their salaries. We should understand that it’s an important issue for every person. It’s an extremely important issue for teachers, because their average salary is below the country’s average.”


The Education Ministry has proposals on how to solve this, as Education Minister Mikhail Zhuravkov notes. He believes that differentiated payment (depending on responsibility) is desirable. Several schools have piloted this and have no desire to return to the previous system. Accordingly, the experiment will be expanded to cover a whole region.

During the report, the President saw samples of new history textbooks. He noted improved teaching methods and enhanced quality of educational textbooks as major areas for development. Meanwhile, he warned that reform for its own sake is unnecessary, and that mindless copying of others’ experience is not the answer.

Decisions were adopted several years ago and remain unchanged. We won’t break our system, preferring to improve it, so that it doesn’t contradict global models. Also under discussion were the development of profile education at schools, the optimisation of secondary education structure, the results of centralised testing, and the preparation of children for the new academic year. Problematic issues will be tackled at a separate session, to be held before the start of the new academic year.

WORD-FOR-WORD

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:

The issue of the status of pedagogical workers, and especially the status of school teachers, is no longer just a public concern. It has become a political issue, for various reasons. Teachers have always had a hard mission to accomplish. Teachers have never been rich; they are not exactly rich today. However, we want them to carry a great burden, including a political burden. If we look at the parliamentary elections or the recent presidential elections and ask ourselves who represented the main political nucleus carrying out the core political campaign, we’ll see that it was teachers, doctors, and civil servants who did so. At present, these categories of the population, who ensure stability in our country, may be offended for no good reason, especially school teachers. Teachers’ status relies on teachers themselves. However, the state should lend its shoulder. It’s bad when teachers in good or average agricultural enterprises receive half the salary of a tractor driver or a dairy worker. It’s abnormal. It’s the central issue. However we deceive ourselves, whatever we may say, teachers don’t complain about their salaries. We should understand that it’s an important issue for every person.

By Vladimir Khromov
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