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Comparing teachers’ status, salaries worldwide

Last Updated : 16 February 2020, 17:55 IST

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For the second time, the London-based Varkey Foundation brought out the Global Teacher Status Index. Compared to their previous one in 2013 that contained 21 countries, the second edition added 14 countries including India.

The major issues addressed throughout this survey are about the degree of respect for teachers in relation to other professions, the social status of teachers, do teachers want their children to teach and the correlation between their pay and performance.

All over the world, parents drop their children at the gates of schools, dreaming about what they might accomplish after years of schooling. They entrust teachers with the duty of nurturing their wards’ educational development and their future pathways.

It is a great responsibility on the shoulders of teaching community worldwide but the question is: Is it reflected in their social position and compensation?

People across the globe are unanimous in saying though it is a superficial statement, “Teaching is a lofty or noblest of the noble professions”.

One of the definitions of the word “noble” is possessing outstanding qualities include honesty, magnanimity, patience, intellectual courage, character and integrity, humility, a positive attitude towards teaching and the synergy of care and share and concern for students. In other words, “teachers are mentors by example”.

Nowadays, the trend has changed. Those in other profession argue that teaching is no more a noble or an attractive job. Is it true?

The question is better answered when teachers ask their students if they want to choose a career in teaching or not.

The general view is that a negligible percentage of people may agree to choose this as a future career by choice. To put it in other words, how many teachers want to encourage their own kids to become teaching professionals?

The Global Teachers Status Index (GTSI) of 2018 thoroughly examined these points and drew certain conclusions. The following are some of the findings of GTSI 2018.

According to the GTSI, teachers have the highest social status in China followed by Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, India, New Zealand and Singapore. It is interesting to note down from the survey that Indian teachers are ranked eighth in their social status.

The bottom 10 countries where teachers are least respected (from least respect to higher) are Brazil, Israel, Italy, Ghana, Argentina, Czech Republic, Hungary, Uganda, Spain and Colombia. It is very clear that teachers in Brazil and Israel are the least respected.

Do teachers want their children to teach? The GTSI-2018 also focused on finding out if that teachers demand their children to prefer teaching as a career. The survey report reveals that in countries with a higher level of respect for teachers, like in China and Malaysia, more than half responded that they would encourage their children to pursue teaching as a career.

In the case of Brazil and Israel, less than 20% want their kids to take up teaching as a career. Here, the Russian case is different. Though in Russia, teachers are well respected, majority of Russians responded that they would least prefer their wards becoming teachers in future.

Another interesting finding of the survey is that 80% of parents of Spain are willing to see their children becoming the future teachers even though educator is least respected in their country.

Reference about Indian parents: The GTSI survey showcased that 54% of Indians who responded, wanted their children to take up pedagogy as a career option which is more than in China (50%). Around 23% people in UK desire their kids to select teaching profession while it is the lowest in Russia (6%).

Why do some countries respect their teachers more than others? Everyone is of the view that to improve the quality of education, the role of teachers is supreme.

In Finland and Singapore, teachers are recruited from the cream of qualified graduates. These two countries are marked as the best school education system providers in the world.

Singapore ranks first in PISA (Programmes for International Student Assessment) which is a major international comparison of pupil’s performance accepted by UNESCO to compare the 15 year old or Class 10 students’ performance worldwide.

Best pay

Where teachers are paid the most? Europe ranks as the best place to teach in terms of salaries. The highest salaries are paid in Switzerland and Germany, and the poorest are those in Latin America and Africa.

The GTSI-2018 is concluded with the following findings: There is a transparent link between respect and the salary received - the higher the status, the more the professional will earn.

Another finding is that teachers should be paid according to their performance. Similarly, the public think that teachers are not fairly paid or according to what the public believes they should be paid.

Countries such as China, Russia and Malaysia see the teacher at the same level as a doctor while in Argentina and Peru, they are similar to social workers,

In the case of America, Brazil, France and Turkey, teachers are having the same status as a librarian. The survey also showed that there is a strong relationship between teacher’s pay and PISA test scores.

In this context, India’s PISA ranking records were not available for comparison. The index rightly concluded by anchoring for high respect for teachers which in turn augment productivity or GDP and pupils’ performance worldwide.

(The writer is Principal, CIT Public School, Gubbi, Tumakuru district)

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Published 16 February 2020, 17:22 IST

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