Podkrepa President Manolov: "Raising Teacher Salaries Is Important but Not Enough"


Podkrepa President Manolov:
"Raising Teacher Salaries
Is Important but Not Enough"

Sofia, April 18 (BTA) - The Podkrepa Confederation of Labour-affiliated Education Trade Union held its Tenth National Conference in Sofia on Thursday. Podkrepa President Dimiter Manolov addressed the participants, commenting that "there is nothing without education no economy, nor healthcare, social policy or culture, nor even politics."

Teachers' Role

"We must 'heal' the classrooms. Raising teachers' salaries is important and necessary, but it is not sufficient," Manolov said further. Education in Bulgaria is clogged with problems, and he thinks it is in a crisis across the world. "Children should be happy, but teachers should be happy, too," the Podkrepa President added.

Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev commented that the teaching profession is an occupation of the future because many occupations will no longer exist in 20-30 years, but there will definitely be teachers.

In the wake of criticism of school delegated budgets, Vulchev commented that without them school principals would have to beg for two reams of copy paper from the municipal council. Then the teachers would not worry so much because financing will not depend on the number of pupils, pupils may be expelled, the number of pupils per class will be reduced while the number of teachers will remain unchanged. "This, however, will make the educational system more excluding," he added. "There are problems, but the formula is that everyone in education should solve them together - teachers, principals and parents," he pointed out.

Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova commented that education is one of the systems in Bulgaria in which a consensus has been reached, to the effect that education should be a strategic priority at the national level. "That is why this well-deserved significant rise of teachers' pay has been achieved in recent years. Just ten years ago, the starting [monthly] salary of a teacher in Sofia was 450 leva and now it is 920 leva," she pointed out.

"Then again, ten years ago the average gross salary of kindergarten teachers in Sofia was 680 leva [per month] and now it is 1,320 leva. Teachers' salaries stood at 700 leva and today they are 1,340 leva," Fandakova said.

Reform, Too, Generated Problems

"The secondary education system in Bulgaria is the most reformed public system, with the largest number of innovations in the last ten years. Quite a few Bulgarian pupils are more knowledgeable and competent than their peers in Europe, but bad discipline and deficient upbringing are what prevent many of them from being successful," Podkrepa Education Trade Union Chairman Yulian Petrov said in turn.

"The vision about Bulgarian education is positive, but also harbours problems. There is no global strategy for Bulgarian education, nor a national educational scientific institute to analyse and summarise Bulgarian and world experience. At least 6 per cent of GDP are necessary to finance education in Bulgaria," Petrov said.

Deficient Discipline, Upbringing

"Aggression, a sense of impunity and lack of respect for teachers have become permanent fixtures in Bulgarian schools," the trade union leader said further. "Teachers and principals are sued, decisions of pedagogical councils are revoked because of the whims of arrogant parents. It is time to end the age of liberal parenthood, and it is also time to introduce conduct marks in Bulgarian schools. This will be an incentive and will reward pupils with good family upbringing and successful social integration, and will also help cultivate values at school. These marks will also be an incentive for pupils with deficient upbringing," Petrov noted.

"Modern educational systems have long used marks for pupils' discipline. Enormous attention is paid to the upbringing of first- to tenth-graders in Japan, South Korea and China, and they top world school performance rankings. Most European educational systems with the exception of Finland have marks for pupils' conduct and discipline," Petrov said, adding that his trade union supports the Strategy on Upbringing in Educational Institution which has been drafted by the Ministry of Education and Science. IG, LI/BR

Source: Sofia