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The teacher remuneration system should be simpler and easier to understand

12/10/2018 Drukāt šo rakstu

According to the State Audit Office, the state must introduce clearer rules for the remuneration of teachers to avoid excessive bureaucracy in the accounting of the working hours and salaries of teachers who work at local government educational institutions, to reduce the high risk of committing violations, and to make the system easier to maintain. The accounting and calculation of salaries must be switched to normal working hours – 40 hours a week, as well as a number of other improvements must be made. The State Audit office has provided these recommendations following the audit on the effectiveness of the management system of national target subsidies for the salaries of teachers.

Improvements are required on all three levels.

The Ministry of Education and Science has tried to develop a pay system based on the personal contribution and the work intensity of the teachers over a long period, but the audit concludes that what has been done is insufficient. Even though the regulatory framework of teacher remuneration, a software tool for organising the sector and obtaining accurate statistics have been developed, a control system has been established and is constantly being improved, the State Audit Office believes that the system needs significant improvements and refinements on all three levels – the state, local governments, and in the schools under their control.

“The national target subsidies for the salaries of teachers is more than 320 million Euro. This question concerns a significant number of people employed in the industry as well – approximately 28,000 teachers. An unclear, incomprehensible and non-transparent remuneration system not only creates a high risk that the taxpayers’ money will not be used in accordance with the requirements of the regulatory enactments, but it also compromises the prestige of the teacher’s profession. A state that thinks about its future cannot afford this,” Elita Krūmiņa, Auditor General, believes.

The procedure for determining the pay is unclear

Deficiencies in the management system of national target subsidies for the salaries of teachers are causing uncertainties in the distribution of loads, principles and procedures of determining the amount of the salary. The audit concludes that salary rates are determined according to the subjective views of the school management in almost all audited schools, since less than half of the audited schools have developed a procedure for determining remuneration and described the procedure for determining the increased salary rate. The responsibilities of the teachers’ and criteria for the evaluation of their work are also not defined.

The State Audit Office indicates that the boundaries between the three elements of remuneration – pay for the workload, bonuses and gratuities – in the work of education teachers have become very unclear or in some cases even disappeared. Thus, it is unclear what is paid for the performance of the basic responsibilities, what is paid for additional responsibilities of work under special circumstances, and, in turn, what is paid for excellent performance and high-quality results. Bonuses are often determined for the performance of such responsibilities that already fall within the description of teachers’ posts. Bonuses are paid to teachers using the available funding to the maximum.

It is time to transition to a 40-hour working week

The State Audit Office has recommended to the Ministry of Education and Science to evaluate the possibility to determine a normal or 40-hour workload per week to teachers, giving up the current 30-hour workload. At the same time, the responsibilities that the teacher must carry out while performing pedagogical work must be clearly defined therein. The amount of other work that is not related to teaching must be separated as well, which would count as additional work for an appropriate bonus and thus would make the system understandable.

The audit concludes that 60% of teachers work more than 30 hours per week. It means that the schools create a significant number of documents – by-laws, orders, etc. – to determine activities to be performed by the teachers in addition to their basic workload and, accordingly, the payment for the hours which exceed 30 working hours per week so that a normal weekly working time of 40 hours can be reached.

A detailed recording of the working hours of all teachers must be carried out as well, and in a way that would indicate both the planned working hours and the total hours worked by the teacher. The current practice points toward incomplete recording of working hours or the exact opposite – double counting of working hours.

The first salary of the academic year is an annual surprise

As a result of the deficiencies of the teacher remuneration system, teachers of local government educational institutions do not receive clear information about the expected salary for the according academic year until only about a month after the beginning of the academic year. This deficiency which creates unequal circumstances for the teachers in comparison to other employed persons and affects the ability of schools to meet the requirements of regulatory enactments regarding the determination and calculation of teacher remuneration was pointed out not only by teachers themselves but by the school management teams and responsible officials of the local governments as well.

The State Audit Office believes that the annual calculations of the amount of funds to be allocated to schools that are made based on the number of pupils in the schools on 1 September cannot be an excuse to keep the teachers in the dark about their expected salaries.

At the same time, the State Audit Office has found some positive examples during the audit as well, which show that it is possible to inform the teachers about their expected workload and salary in the coming year before receiving the information about the amount of target subsidies from the ministry. For example, in Krustpils Primary School, a supplemental agreement to the employment contract indicating the expected workload for the following academic year is concluded between the educational institution and the teacher in June. In Nereta Jānis Jaunsudrabiņš Secondary School, the teachers receive an overview showing the planned teaching hours, hours for carrying out other responsibilities, as well as the salary rate and the amount of bonuses before the summer vacation.

The audit “Is the management system of national target subsidies for the salaries of teachers effective and does it ensure efficient use of funds in compliance with regulatory enactments?” was carried out by the State Audit Office in 32 educational institutions in 10 local governments on a non-systematic basis. The audit was carried for the operation of local governments in the time period from 2017 to June 2018.

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