June 11th, 2023
Around 40 years ago, a newcomer kindergarten and elementary school teacher in France would earn 2.3 times the minimum wage. Today, newcomer elementary school teachers earn 1.2 times the minimum wage.
The De-Indexation of Salaries
This decrease in earnings can be linked directly to a political decision taken at the beginning of the 1980s called de-indexation. Before, when prices of goods would rise, salaries would rise proportionally. Before 1983, this was no longer the case. School teachers will receive bonuses but this additional source of revenue is insufficient to counterbalance the difference between the rise in prices and teacher salaries.
Since this political decision of de-indexation to teacher salaries, teachers have not been able to catch up with the cost of living in France. Likewise, today, French kindergarten and elementary school teachers are part of the least well-paid kindergarten and elementary school teachers in Europe. This comparison is for both teachers at the start and the end of their careers. For example, a teacher in France with 15 years of seniority earns twice as less as their German counterparts.
In addition, French kindergarten and elementary school teachers work more than the average kindergarten and elementary school teacher in Europe with a total of 920 hours a week. To this total, the unconsidered work of teachers, consisting of preparation and correction time required to perform their job must be added. One out of two teachers declares working more than 43 hours per week whilst spending 25 to 30 hours a week in class, interacting with students.
An Unattractive Profession
All over France, teachers declare professional exhaustion from harsh working conditions and are unmotivated by the limited career prospects. As a result, teachers are increasingly dissatisfied and only 6.6 percent of kindergarten and elementary school teachers feel valued by society.
A Problem for the State
Consequently, the French state is struggling to hire teachers. In 2022, more than 4,000 jobs were vacant. To make the profession more attractive, Emmanuel Macron has made changes to the bonuses teachers receive. All kindergarten and elementary school teachers will receive a bonus of 100 euros net at the start of the 2023 school year in September and this bonus may reach 230 euros net for beginner teachers.
Furthermore, if elementary teachers offer to help 6th-grade middle school students with their homework, in addition to their mandatory hours, they will be compensated 69 euros an hour. Nonetheless, the additional bonuses remain inferior to the rise of purchasing power linked to high inflation in 2023. Likewise, the additional hours teachers have to work create the assumption that teachers have extra time on their hands.
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