Eurostat: Bulgaria has pupil-teacher ratio below EU average

Bulgaria had a pupil-teacher ratio of 11.1 in 2021, down from 11.4 in 2020, and below the EU average, according to a report published by European Union statistics agency on October 5.

Pupil-teacher ratios are calculated by dividing the number of full-time equivalent pupils and students in each level of education by the number of full-time equivalent teachers at the same level. This ratio should not be confused with average class sizes.

In the EU in 2021, the average number of pupils per teacher at primary, secondary and upper secondary levels was 12.1. This was a decrease of 0.2 percentage points compared with 2020 (12.3), Eurostat said.

The number of pupils per teacher in the EU has been decreasing since 2013 when this data collection became mandatory. In that year, the ratio was 13.3, indicating a 1.2 percentage point decrease compared with 2021, the statistics agency said.

The highest ratios were reported in the Netherlands (16.4 pupils per teacher), France (14.9), Slovakia (14.3), Romania (14.1) and Ireland (13.4). Meanwhile, the lowest ratio was recorded in Greece (8.2), followed by Malta (8.7), Croatia (9.1), Belgium and Luxembourg (both 9.3).

In terms of age, in Bulgaria in 2021, the largest percentages of teachers were older than 50.

Of the country’s 22 885 primary school teachers, 50 per cent were over 50, of those at lower secondary education level, 47 per cent were over 50, and at upper secondary level, 50.4 per cent were over 50.

Across the EU, in 2021, only eight per cent (393 428 teachers) of the total teaching workforce were younger than 30 years old in these three education levels. I contrast, 2.1 million teachers in the EU were 50 or older, accounting for 39 per cent of teachers at these levels.

Meanwhile, on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day on October 5, the European Commission’s Eurydice network has published its annual report on Teachers’ and School Heads’ salaries and allowances. The report covers the salaries of teachers and school heads in pre-primary, primary and general secondary public schools for the 2021-2022 period in Europe.

The report shows great differences in teachers’ earnings across Europe. These differences concern not only the starting salaries of teachers but also the potential for salaries to increase throughout their career.

On average, pre-primary teachers tend to earn less while upper secondary teachers usually earn more, although in some European countries, including Bulgaria, all teachers receive the same salaries at the start of their careers.

In nine countries, annual starting salaries of teachers adjusted for inflation decreased for all education levels between 2014/2015 and 2021/2022.

In 10 countries, starting salaries of teachers (adjusted for inflation) remained the same or lower between 2014/2015 and 2020/2021. In contrast, the highest increases – more than 30 per cent – over the past five years can be found in several central and eastern European countries (Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia), and in Iceland and Serbia.

In five EU countries (Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary, Poland and Romania), the statutory salary of beginning teachers is below 10 000 euro per year. In Europe, the highest salaries of above 50 000 euro are in Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

(Photo: Varna municipality)

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