The Pendulum of Decentralization and Recentralization Reforms: Its Impact on Teacher Salaries in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Mongolia
This background paper for the 2009 Global Monitoring Report examines teacher salaries in the post-socialist region of the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajik Republic, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), and Mongolia. A special emphasis is placed on public management and finance reforms of the new millennium that have affected teacher salaries.
All the countries presented in this study are, with the exception of Mongolia, former Soviet republics and as such share features of the former Soviet teacher salary structure and rationale. Even though politically independent, Mongolia also adopted the same salary model. The problems with the Soviet legacy of teacher salaries are strikingly similar across this post-socialist region: a low base salary for teachers, an unpredictable, fragmented and non-transparent income composed of statutory teaching hours, additional teaching hours, supplements, allowances, bonuses, and a compressed salary scale with little differentiation between the starting and ending salary. For a variety of reasons, including the absence of a comprehensive reform of the post-socialist teacher salary, the teaching profession has become unattractive. Attracting graduates of teacher education programs to work in schools is a major concern in the region. In some countries fewer than half of the graduates of teacher education enter the teaching profession. The teaching force is over-aged with a great proportion qualifying for retirement. Retaining teachers in the profession is another concern. Those who remain in the teaching profession work additional hours, engage in private tutoring or take on additional jobs. Without exception all governments in the region substantially raised teacher salaries over the past few years, but teacher salaries, along with salaries of all civil servants, have remained below the national salary average. Several ministries of education issued emergency decrees to combat teacher shortage in rural areas. They have passed short-term measures to remedy the worst outgrowth of a profession that, nowadays competing with higher paid jobs in the private sector, has turned to be unattractive. The same governments have also embarked on more long-term measures by revising public management and finance in ways that could benefit civil servants and teachers. In short sequence, the educational sector in most of these countries has been decentralized and recentralized leaving behind a centralist government that governs centrally and at the same time relies on local financial contribution to the public sector; a contribution that typically is only made by municipalities and local governments in other urban areas with a sizable revenue from local taxes.