Few remembers exactly when the dispute or the negotiations between the Hungarian government and teachers’ unions have started about the chronically low salaries in the sector, some put it back into the early nineties, right after end of Communism. However, there is hope now for teachers, as the government has pledged to incentivize the sector with a significantly more competitive income package.
The government will implement a nearly four hundred billion forint pay rise for teachers if it manages to get the necessary funds from the European Union. Plans are to revamp teachers’ training and provide more money to support their housing needs. The government would use EU money to make teachers’ pay inflation-tracking. That is according to a recently published Human Resources Development Operational Program Plus (EFOP Plus) tender, in which the government details how it would use the EU funding it is seeking for 2021-27.
If the appropriate funds are released by Brussels, the Orbán government also plans to undertake an indexation in line with inflation until 2029 to ensure that the average salary of teachers reaches eighty percent of the average salary of Hungarian graduates (currently 63.5 percent).
The document shows that the government would spend €978.7 million on improving teachers’ pay. Teachers who work with disadvantaged children or in challenging areas, would be given special attention, with extra allowances.
The program also lists other measures, such as the introduction of a “prestige of the profession” teacher’s certificate with a system of benefits, an extension of the range of teacher qualifications that can be awarded, and the creation of social housing, especially for young teachers and married couples. The government wants to introduce these measures to make the teaching profession more attractive, especially for young people.
In January this year teachers’ salaries in public education were increased by ten percent, and they will receive a further ten percent extra pay next year and in 2024.
This is a new version of the EROP Plus proposal drafted by the government of Viktor Orbán and submitted to the European Commission for approval. The Commission now has several months to evaluate and approve it, then sometime at the end of the year or next year, the funds could be released.
All this of course if a solution to the dispute between the Commission and the government is settled successfully. The EU’s post-pandemic recovery funds are currently being held back by Brussels due to rule-of-law legal proceedings against Hungary, the government has until 22 August to send its response to the Commission in order to avoid the prospect of a suspension of funds, which in turn could mean delays in the planned teachers’ income reforms.
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