Virginijus Savukynas. A bag full of holes that is the education system

Virginijus Savukynas
LRT / Vytenis Radžiūnas

For example, economist Nerijus Mačiulis presented the following numbers. We dedicate 5.2% of GDP to education. This is half a percentage more than the EU average. Let us agree that this is truly a good figure, not all areas can boast of it.

Furthermore, we finance it one percent more than the wealthy Germany. However, we look at teachers’ wages and see that they are truly small. We are left wondering why. Where is the teachers’ money going? This is where we need serious analysis. Let me present a few numbers.

It turns out that in primary school in Lithuania, there is 10.47 students per teacher. For comparison: Switzerland – 15.53, France – 19.44 and Finland – 13.32.

Let us ask then: have you seen a class which would have 10 or 11 primary schoolers? Even further – economist Žilvinas Šilėnas presented numbers that some 30 thousand teachers work in schools, however almost 22 thousand are not educators. What are they? What do they do? Upon returning from the Sunday protest, teachers should have had a look at who is working in their schools and whether they truly contribute to improving teaching quality.

Also, let us remember the massive schools, which “eat” a not insignificant sum of money. Thus failure to economise prevents giving a suitable piece of the large pie intended for education to teachers.

These simple numbers show that there is a system in the education sphere where teachers are not the most important, but the administration and whatever else. The money is going somewhere, but not to teachers, not to those, who ensure teaching quality. After all, based on international results, our students are far in the back. Do we really think that we will create a wealthy Lithuania if our teachers are taught so poorly?

You can assign however much money you want to such a system, but teachers’ wages will nevertheless rise only slowly. Thus, we should look at whether we truly need as many teachers as we have now rather than looking for money in the budget. After all, the number of residents and thus children is declining.

Hence, perhaps it is time to reduce the number of teachers, leave only the best and double their wages? And then demand that there would be quality education in schools.

Take how the National Audit Office’s analysis showed that a whole 35% of parents hire tutors. This means that quality is not ensured at school. At the same time, it means increasing social segregation – children, whose parents can afford tutors, will be wealthier in the future than those, whose parents could not afford to do so. That’s what will be a core task for the next minister of education.

A little social psychology to end with, explaining why it is that the teachers’ discontent erupted right now. Revolutions do not happen in societies that are poor. People are simply too occupied with making sure they can feed their families.

However, the situation changes when living conditions begin to improve. Then the people’s hope arises and if something happens that ruins those hopes, then the conditions for revolution appear.

This happened in 1789 in France – at that point the farmers and urban residents lived far better than in the early 18th century. However, they started a revolution because their hopes were greater. Revolutions appear when hopes do not match reality, not when life is especially bad.

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