Kyrgyzstani lawmakers demand action on underpaid teachers

Kyrgyzstan is facing a shortage of teachers, as fewer graduates are willing to endure rock-bottom pay and poor teaching conditions, reports.

The number of teachers increased from 69,000 in 2010 to more than 75,000 in 2012, after a wage increase was announced, and dropped to 72,000 after the raise didn’t materialize, a teachers union official said, according to the news agency. Around 36,000 education graduates are working outside the field, the union official said.

One former English teacher told she quit to take a job selling Chinese-made clothes because her teacher’s monthly pay of 3,800 soms ($68) per month was far from covering her needs. “That salary is enough to buy one nice dress,” she said, adding that she could make ends meet only thanks to her husband’s salary.

The chairman of parliament’s education and science committee, former physics teacher Kanybek Osmonaliev, said low average monthly salaries – 5,500 soms (around $100) – are the main culprit for the teacher shortage, which has been ongoing for several years.

Earlier this month, writes, Deputy Finance Minister Arzybek Kozhoshev said shortfalls in taxes and customs fees meant the only way to raise teachers’ pay was to cut capital investments in other areas. One member of parliament, Ismail Isakov, called for the resignations of the Education Minister and the entire government unless they could improve conditions for teachers. The monthly meal allowances for Finance Ministry staff exceed a teacher’s salary, he said.

The shortcomings of Kyrgyzstan’s education system became glaring when the country scored last on the widely used Program for International Student Assessment exam, or PISA, in 2005 and 2009, writes. More than four in five students failed to show minimal aptitude in reading, math, and science. The official response was to stop participating in the exam.

This article was originally published by Transitions Online. Homepage image by SrA Brett Clashman/ Wikimedia Commons.


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