According to data from the OECD, there are currently 11 students per school teacher in Poland, with the European average being 15. OECD analyses also indicate that Poland is last when it comes to the number of in-class hours required of a teacher. In our country, this number is about 564 hours per year (which gives a daily average of 3.15 hours), while the average in OECD countries is 778 hours (by more than 1/3 more than in Poland).
In the years 2006–2018, the population of children and adolescents up to 19 years of age decreased by about 16%. During that time, the number of teachers increased by about 9% (data provided by the Ministry of National Education). Therefore, we are witnessing a structural change taking place in the field of education, one which requires a response, and dialogue to be established between the trade unions, the government and the local government units.
Intensive talks on pay raises for the teachers – ongoing for several days now – are an opportunity to have a more detailed discussion on structural issues that are fundamental for the education system. The main goal of the state, the teachers, and especially the parents, is for the children and adolescents to receive the best education possible.
This spurred the government to put forward the offer of a new social contract, accounting for both the demographic trend (declining student numbers), as well as teachers naturally leaving the profession (e.g. on account of having reached the retirement age).
The proposal assumes a substantial increase in wages, one that also takes into account the systemic efficiency leap – raising the wages in order to bring them closer to the OECD average in two variants. The tangible result of the new social contract are higher remunerations in the amount of, depending on the chosen option, PLN 7,700 or PLN 8,100 a month for certified teachers, starting already from 2023. Increases in remunerations will apply to all groups of teachers (trainees, contract teachers, nominated teachers and certified teachers). In the case of the last stage of professional promotion, within four years, increases of remuneration are envisaged from PLN 2,100 up to PLN 2,500 a month.
We assume that after the changes are introduced, in subsequent years, a certified teacher will receive, for the option of 22 obligatory teaching hours: PLN 6,128 in 2020, PLN 6,653 in 2021, PLN 7,179 in 2022, and PLN 7,704 in 2023. With 24 obligatory teaching hours (OECD average), a certified teacher could expect the following increase of remuneration: PLN 6,335 in 2020, PLN 7,434 in 2021, PLN 7,800 in 2022 and PLN 8,100 in 2023.
The increase in the number of obligatory teaching hours would be rolling and would cover its cyclical increase each year together with the wage raise granted, up to the level of 22 (or 24) in-class hours in 2023. The objectives cover also the forecast of leaving the teacher profession (including in relation with retirement). For the years 2010–2018, the average number of teachers leaving the teacher profession is equal to 25–30 thousand teachers a year, and 80% of teachers are not replaced. Estimates suggest that this situation makes it possible to introduce changes without any additional staff cuts.
The solutions presented by the government are an additional offer to the previously made assurances, and they initiate a dialogue on the structure of teachers’ remunerations. The government is open to continue the dialogue on this issue, and the solution proposed is to be treated as initial. Details of this solution should be developed in a dialogue with the teachers’ community.