Schoolchildren with teacher
Schoolchildren with teacheriStock

On Monday, the commissioner for salaries in the Finance Ministry published a report dealing with teachers' salaries, as part of the ongoing negotiations between the Ministry and the teachers' union regarding wage increases.

According to the data presented, as of last academic year, the average salary for a teacher in Israel was NIS 12,423 per month.

In the academic year in question, close to 137 thousand teachers and other related staff were employed in the education system, and as in many other areas of the economy, there are large wage differentials between entrance-level teachers and veteran educators, with younger and newer teachers earning around 29 percent of what veteran teachers are paid.

In the lowest decile, teachers earn around eight thousand shekels per month; veteran teachers in Israel can expect to earn around 23 thousand shekels per month, before tax. Part of the large discrepancies can be explained by additional roles that veteran teachers take on, such as class educator or subject coordinator -- however, when younger and less experienced teachers take on such roles, they are not compensated equally.

For instance, a newer teacher receives an increase of NIS 609 per month if appointed as classroom educator, compared to an increase of NIS 1,539 for a veteran teacher.

According to the data, there has been a significant increase in the number of young teachers who leave the field within five years of starting out. Last year alone, 21 percent of young teachers left the field.

Kobi Bar Natan, the Finance Ministry's commissioner of salaries, noted in his report that, "In order to introduce a new spirit into the system despite the difficulties, changes must be made to teachers' salaries. This report reveals that the structure of teachers' salaries is based on seniority and that there is too great a gap between younger and more veteran teachers. This gap is one of the highest in the world. The salaries paid to young teachers in Israel is too low and harms the quality of the education our children receive."

The teachers' union responded: "The Treasury continues with its manipulations and tries to fool the public. This report is full of wrong conclusions based on partial and inaccurate data. It was not for nothing that the Treasury chose not to address Israel's position in relation to the OECD countries regarding the number of students in a class, the salary of teaching staff, and the number of face-to-face teaching hours.

"We suggest that the Finance Ministry invest its energy in honest negotiations, instead of engaging in spins and publishing deceptive reports. For months we have been warning that the coming school year will not start without an optimal salary agreement for all teaching staff in the state system. And yet, Treasury officials continue with their condescending and bullying behavior towards the hardworking women who keep the education system going. We once again call on the Prime Minister to demonstrate leadership and intervene personally in the crisis of the education system."