The issue of education and specifically teacher pay in France is at the heart of the campaign for the 2022 presidential election. Visit Germany, Finland and Israel to see how teachers are treated there.
Germany, a dream country for teachers?
On the other side of the Rhine, the teaching profession enjoys a particularly high reputation. The teacher shortage associated with demographic change is another factor that explains the high salary levels in the country. At the end of the career, the salary can be up to 5,500 euros gross per month. However, there are significant differences depending on the region.
Education in Germany is a matter for the federal states. So you determine the content of the courses and examinations, but also the salary according to regionally applicable grids. Therefore, there is no equivalent to national education in Germany. Teachers apply directly to the institutions where they wish to work. It is the executives who conduct the interviews and select the candidates. Overall, wages are significantly higher than in France. A new primary school teacher earns between 3,500 and 4,000 euros gross per month. In secondary and high school, salaries vary between 4,000 and 4,600 gross per month. The prize goes to high school teachers at the end of their careers in Baden-Württemberg with 5,665 euros gross per month.
There are no teachers on the streets, no teachers’ strikes in the country. Official status prohibits teachers from demonstrating. However, there are dissatisfactions that are also related to the strong differences in the status of teachers. For example, the city of Berlin, which has been highly indebted for several years, has refused its teachers civil servant status due to a lack of financial resources. With dramatic consequences for the city’s schools: the flight of the teachers to neighboring Brandenburg, which practices higher salary levels.
A Finnish model that can be transferred abroad?
The Scandinavian country is often seen as a role model when it comes to education. Since the beginning of the PISA surveys, which test the knowledge of 15-year-old schoolchildren, Finland has ranked first in a European comparison, well ahead of France. But the question arises: would we be willing to accept all the cultural and social changes that this entails?
To answer this question, we can look at the teachers. A Finnish teacher offers between 18 and 24 lessons per week, plus two hours for educational events. He goes through a drastic selection process – the pass rate on the exam varies between 8 and 20% – at the end of which he must “sell” his skills to the directors and directors who will hire him. A Finnish school system also includes about twenty students per class and salaries of more than 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 “increasing their quality”. The teacher cannot rate less than 4 out of 10, but he has complete freedom to customize his course. “I have to make sure my students can communicate in English, but the method is up to mesays Hemi, language teacher in Finland. So if my class does better with projects or games or music, I do it.”
Don’t be afraid that an inspector will remind you of the following program, the inspection body was abolished in the 1990s, the Finnish model is trying to be exported. There’s even an organization that sells Finnish know-how abroad – Education Finland – but it reminds us of the rules of any school reform: it takes time, it’s a step-by-step approach, and most importantly, there must be a political consensus.
Ridiculous public sector salaries in Israel
In the Jewish state there are different types of education: many private schools, outside of contracts, or even yeshivas, those schools where only religion is taught. But if we focus on the public, state schools, the teachers are paid pretty badly. At the beginning of their careers, but even after several years, teachers in Israel – in both primary and secondary schools – have ridiculous salaries. According to an annual review of education in OECD countries published in September 2021, teachers in the country are underpaid, while Israeli classrooms are among the most overcrowded. In fact, if we compare their salaries using a purchasing power scale, they earn 6% less, especially since living in Israel is very expensive. Sometimes their starting salary can be lower than the usual server salary. This is the result of a survey by the Israeli business newspaper The markerevery fifth Israeli teacher leaves the profession within the first three years.
Teachers have been protesting for a long time, criticizing in particular that educational administrators do not come from the teaching profession. They demand an increase in wages or the general image of the profession, and strikes are threatened at the start of each school year, led by the teachers’ union. As a result, there is a real teacher shortage in Israel. A deficiency that existed before the Corona pandemic, but which is getting worse and worse. The main teachers’ union also fears a difficult start to school next September if there is no agreement on salaries in June, and mentions the closure of entire classes.