29 June 2011

Paying Teachers a Living Wage

No, this post isn't about the US.  Someone else can take that topic up.  This is about salaries for teachers in Kyrgyzstan.

As I've mentioned before, the salary for a school director (a principal, basically) has been about $100/month in Tokmok and teachers are payed less.  Teachers and administrators have nearly always been paid more in Bishkek and less in the regions.  That makes some sense because the cost of living is higher in Bishkek, but it also means that teachers in the regions have been paid very little and therefore there aren't many people who want to teach there.

The government recently raised salaries significantly though, as much as 2-4 times. Teachers in the regions get paid more than teachers in Bishkek now (I think that's best, even though there are good arguments against that policy).  Medical workers also are getting paid more.

But where's the money going to come from?  It's not clear that the higher salaries are actually getting paid yet, or if they're getting to the right people.  The new state budget is significantly higher than last year's and it's unclear how Kyrgyzstan can afford it at all.

Certainly there is a perception that there should be less corruption now with Otunbaeva. But she's just one person and a huge amount of money is still wasted or skimmed off, leaving Kyrgyzstan with few foreign investors or countries willing to loan it money.

One suggestion is to raise energy prices, but people, especially outside Bishkek, are already barely able to afford the current prices and I don't think anyone will forget soon that increased utility prices were a significant factor in Bakiev's ouster.

I'm all for paying teachers more.  I just don't know if it's possible here.  I think there is enough money in the country for teachers to be paid a reasonable about, but it's not in the right hands.

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