© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

Provincial schools struggle to attract specialists to teach at the same time as low wages and poor conditions deter educators looking for work.

Provincial Lithuania is in a peculiar position where there is fairly high demand for educators, while the supply also being fairly high. However, there is a mismatch with few Maths teachers and, on the contrary, an abundance of History specialists.

And even when a match is found, often both parties are faced with issues of funding, transportation and housing.

“It is some sort of paradox. Truly there is no lack of teachers in schools, but you see demand for educators spiking in small towns every August. We’ve observed a particular lack of Mathematics and primary school teachers. There was much talk of a lack of Science teachers, but to give an example we had a rather difficult time finding a position for a chemistry teacher. It is, however, tough to generalise since I am basing this only on our project’s experience,” explained Eglė Pranckūnienė, representative for the Renkuosi Mokyti initiative which aims to attract young specialists to provincial schools.

She also highlighted the issue of housing, saying that it appears there is still no tradition of letting housing in provincial towns. Therefore in many cases, the entire school community has to band together and seek a home for a potential teacher.

Various perks help make up for some of it, such as free access to local sports centres, school brokered agreements that reduce living costs or opportunities to make some extra money by leading extracurricular activities or homeroom classes.

In the end, the situation is still unsatisfactory with teachers’ wages remaining low, particularly for junior teachers where wages skirt the level of minimum wage.

“Teacher’s wages are, of course, ridiculous given the fact that you don’t count your working hours. If you have a higher category, you still get something; the work load in our school tends to be sufficient. What you have to do in the name of your work, however, is worth thrice the wages,” the director of the Mažeikiai Merkelis Račkauskas Gymnasium, Almutė Valtienė, stressed.

DELFI

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