"I Find It Unfair that Teachers Aren't Paid Better" – Seite 1

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My Job

Occupation: I am a teacher at a municipal elementary school in Danderyd, a community 10 kilometers north of Stockholm. I teach children from preschool to the third grade. In Sweden, schooling only begins at age seven. Six-year-olds attend preschool. Preschool used to be optional, but now it is mandatory for all children. Essentially, preschool children learn the same things first-graders do in Germany – arithmetic, reading, writing and English – just in a more playful way.

As team leader for the three lower grades, I am also responsible for making budgetary and pedagogical decisions in addition to teaching – for example on what teaching materials should be purchased. Once a week, I chair a meeting with other teachers where we discuss organizational issues or talk about possible problems. My duties also include informing teachers of decisions made by the school administration, which is not always a pleasant task. I am essentially something of an intermediary between the administration and the teachers.

Education: In contrast to Germany, elementary school in Sweden goes through the ninth grade. Gymnasium only lasts three years. In gymnasium, we begin specializing for a career direction, such as natural sciences, social sciences, automotive engineering or nursing. I chose to focus on pedagogy. After that, I went on to study teaching at college. Elementary school teachers for the lowest levels don't have to specialize in specific subjects because you end up teaching all of them anyway. You only really focus on a specific subject for your thesis. To ensure that I had the possibility of teaching in higher classes as well, I took additional university courses in mathematics and Swedish. I attended university for a total of five years.

"In Sweden, unlike in some parts of Germany, teachers aren't given civil servant status."
Anna, 46 years old from Schweden

Working Hours: I work full time. In Sweden, that translates to 45 hours a week during the school year. In exchange, though, we have eight weeks off in summer when we don't have to do anything at all. During that time, you don't have to correct tests either. It makes up for the extra work we do during the year.

My Income

Gross Income: I earn 42,000 Swedish krona per month, the equivalent of around 4,000 euros. I have a higher-than-average income. In the area around Stockholm, salaries tend to be a bit higher than elsewhere in the country. Nevertheless, a gross salary of 2,500 euros is standard for teachers. Our occupation is not exactly well paid. In Sweden, unlike in some parts of Germany, teachers also aren't given civil servant status. In Sweden, teachers are considered normal employees. Unions make recommendations, but ultimately, the municipalities determine teacher salaries for public schools. At private schools, the schools decide themselves.

I've been lucky. Because I have switched schools four times in the last several years, I was able to renegotiate each time. Combined with the fact that I have a higher position because I'm a team leader, I've ended up with a relatively high salary. The current teacher shortage gave me additional leverage. Still, I find it unfair that teachers aren't paid better. Our job is both extremely stressful and extremely important and I think that should be reflected in our salaries.

Net Income: In Sweden, all insurance payments, such as health insurance, parental insurance, occupational disability insurance, pension withholdings and occupational casualty insurance, are withheld from your gross salary. Taxes come on top of that, on a sliding scale depending on your income. They include municipal tax, church tax and national income tax. After all that, I am left with around 3,000 euros per month.

"I usually travel within Sweden"

My Expenses

Family: My daughter is 22 years old and goes to university in Uppsala. I pay part of her rent in the student dormitory, her insurances and give her money for food. In total, that amounts to around 250 euros per month. She takes care of the rest of her expenses with a student loan. My partner has two children who live with us. We share the costs for food and other expenses, but he takes care of all additional costs for his children.

Living: For the last two years, we have lived in a rowhouse about 30 kilometers north of Stockholm. It is a special model called Bostadsrätt, which means permanent residential right. We don't own our place, but we can live there for an unlimited period of time. It's like a collective, but it tends to be for those who earn a bit more than average because you do have to invest some of your own capital. When we moved in, we paid an initial, one-time fee that is lower than the normal market price of a home. On top of that, we pay a monthly fee that is lower than normal rent. That money goes toward paying the expenses of all the homes in the collective.

My partner and I pay 1,400 per month for the rental fee and for the bank loan we had to take out for the initial fee. Our home has 104 square meters (1,120 square feet), a cellar, a garage and a small yard. It is perfectly located near forests, fields and lakes. When his children move out, I can imagine that we might move into a smaller place further out in the countryside.

"Our home is perfectly located near forests, fields and lakes."
Anna, Elementary school teacher

Food: I try to buy mostly organic products from the region, which I find especially important for milk, vegetables, eggs and meat. I eat less meat than I used to, but it's still part of the menu several times a week. Beyond that, I try to buy products that are on sale. I tend to spend around 200 euros per month on food.

Telephone and Internet: I pay around 32 euros per month for my mobile phone contract and an additional 37 euros for internet.

Transportation: I drive to work because public transportation connections to my current place of work aren't particularly good. For insurance, taxes and fuel, I pay around 160 euros per month.

Insurance: For homeowner's insurance, I pay 23 euros per month and I have a life insurance policy for an additional 28 euros per month.

Charity: I donate around 40 euros a month to charity or other causes.

Sport: My fitness studio membership costs me around 30 euros per month.

Clothes and Personal Hygiene: I don't buy new clothes very often. In total, I spend an average of around 110 euros per month on clothes, cosmetics and other hygiene articles.

Travel: I don't generally spend all that much money for vacations. I usually travel within Sweden and spend the night with friends or relatives, or I might rent a vacation house for a week. I never sleep in hotels. I spend around 500 euros each year for travel.

Free Time: Because of Sweden's extremely high sales tax of 25 percent, restaurants, cinema and other free time activities are quite expensive. I don't go out to eat very often, maybe once or twice a month, adding up to around 65 euros.

What's Left Over?

I'm left with around 1,300 euros, which I need for car repairs or for taking my dog to the vet. Or I save it for unexpected expenses or larger trips.

*All amounts have been converted from krona to euros and rounded.

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