Teachers' salaries lowest in OECD

Latvian teachers' salaries are the lowest of all the 35 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) but about 20 percent higher compared to similarly educated workers, according to the latest international report "Education at a Glance 2017: OECD Indicators".

"In absolute terms, average annual teachers' salaries in Latvia are the lowest of all OECD and partner countries from pre-primary to upper secondary education. The average teacher's salary in upper secondary education is USD 18,400, about 2.5 times less than the OECD average of USD 46,900," says the report.

"However, when compared to the earnings of similarly educated workers in the country, teachers are more well-paid in Latvia than in any other OECD country or economy with available data. Whereas in other countries and economies with available data primary and secondary teachers earn less than their similarly educated peers, in Latvia they earn over 20 percent more," the report says, noting that high relative salaries are one of the important factors in attracting and retaining high-quality teachers.

The report notes that class sizes in Latvia are below average for both primary (16 students per class compared with the OECD average of 21) and lower secondary education (15 students compared with the OECD average of 23).

"These relatively small class sizes push the cost of education up by requiring more teachers for a given number of students. However, Latvia makes up for this at in last part by requiring less instruction time for students. At 169 days for primary and 173 days for lower secondary, Latvia has one of the shortest school years in compulsory education of all OECD countries as well as the lowest total number of compulsory instruction hours for students of all OECD countries," the OECD said.

Despite the lower instruction time for students, teachers' total statutory working time in Latvia for primary to upper secondary education is well above the respective OECD averages. However, less than half of these hours have to be done at school - at 735 hours per year, teachers in Latvia have one of the lowest working time required at school of all OECD countries.

Primary and lower secondary teachers in Latvia also spend a below-average number of hours actually teaching. This means that teachers are allotted a considerable amount of time to very important non-classroom activities such as grading, lesson preparation, meeting other teachers and tutoring students who are behind.

All these factors - instruction time, teaching time, class size and teachers' salaries - may influence the supply and demand of teachers in a country. Creating favorable conditions to attract the best candidates to the teaching profession may be particularly important in countries like Latvia which face ageing teaching workforce.

According to the report, in both lower and upper secondary education, the average age of teachers in Latvia is 48, the third highest of all OECD and partner countries. Moreover, about 50 percent of teachers in these education levels are aged 50 or older, considerably above the OECD averages of 36 percent in lower secondary and 40 percent in upper secondary.

You can read the full report HERE.

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