The question of education and especially the salaries of teachers in France is at the heart of the campaign for the presidential election in 2022. Go to Germany, Finland and Israel to see how teachers are treated there.
Germany, a dream country for teachers?
Across the Rhine, the teaching profession is given more attention. The shortage of teachers involved in demographic changes is an additional factor in explaining the high salary level in the country. At the end of the career, the salary can reach 5,500 euros gross per month. But there are many differences depending on the region.
Education in Germany is the responsibility of Länder. They are therefore the ones who set the content of programs and examinations, but they are also the ones who determine the salary level according to the grids that are valid throughout the region. So there is no equivalent to National Education in Germany. Teachers apply directly to the institutions where they want to work. Directors conduct job interviews and select candidates. In general, wages are higher than in France. A new elementary school teacher will earn between 3,500 to 4,000 euros gross per month. In secondary and high school, the salary varies between 4,000 and 4,600 gross per month. The prize will go to high school teachers at the end of their careers in Baden-Württemberg with 5,665 euros gross per month.
There are no street teachers, nor strikes by teachers in the country. It is true that civil servant status prohibits teachers from performing. However, there are dissatisfactions that are also associated with rapid changes in the situation of teachers. So the city of Berlin, which had been heavily indebted for several years, stopped granting civil servant status to its teachers, due to lack of financial means. With a remarkable consequence for the city’s schools: the flight of teachers to neighboring Brandenburg, who practice at higher salary levels.
A Finnish model that can be transferred abroad?
This Scandinavian country has always been taken as a model when it comes to education. Since the start of the Pisa surveys, which tested the knowledge of 15-year-old students, Finland has taken the first places for European countries, away from France. But a question arises: are we willing to accept all the cultural and social changes it implies?
To answer this question, let’s look at teachers. The Finnish teacher gives between 18 and 24 lessons per week, plus two hours set aside for educational meetings. He goes through a tough selection – the exam success rate varies from 8 to 20% – in the end where he has to “sell” his skills to the directors and bosses who hire him. The Finnish school system also involves almost twenty students per class and salaries in excess of 3,000 euros per month.
In addition to this material aspect, there is also the question of pedagogy. While in France, we focus on discipline and grades, in Finland, the keywords are “student initiative” and “improving their quality”. The teacher cannot rate below 4 out of 10, but she has complete freedom to adapt her course. “I have to make sure my students can communicate in English but which method, I’ll take care ofsaid Hemi, a Finnish language teacher. So if my class is better at projects, or by playing, music, I will.
Without fear that an inspector will remind you of the program to follow, the inspection body was abolished in the 1990s. The Finnish model is trying to be exported. There is even one organization that sells Finnish knowledge abroad – Education Finland – but it reminds us of the rules of any school reform: You need time, slow going, and most of all there is a political consensus.
In Israel, public sector wages are ridiculous
In the Jewish state, there are different types of education: many private schools, other than contracts, or even yeshivas, are these schools where only religion is taught. But if you focus on the public, government schools, teachers are pretty badly paid. At the beginning of their careers, but also after a few years, Israeli teachers – in elementary and secondary schools – had ridiculous salaries. According to an annual review of education in OECD countries, published in September 2021, teachers in the country have lower than average salaries, while Israel’s classrooms are one of the most overcrowded. In fact, they earn 6% less when we compare their salaries using the purchasing power scale, especially since life in Israel is so expensive. Sometimes their starting salary can be less than the server’s usual salary. According to a survey published by Israeli business daily The Markerone in five Israeli teachers left the profession within the first three years.
Teachers have been protesting for a long time.They are particularly critical of the fact that education administrators are not removed from the teaching profession. They demand an increase in salary or the overall prestige of the profession and at the beginning of each school year, there are threats of strikes, led by the teachers ’union. As a result, there is a real shortage of teachers in Israel. A deficiency that already existed before the coronavirus pandemic, but is only getting worse. The main teachers ’union also fears it will be difficult to return to school next September without a salary agreement in June, citing closures for the entire class.