What's a teacher worth?

FEW PEOPLE go into teaching for the money. In most countries, teachers earn less than similarly well-educated workers in other professions. Various reasons are suggested for this, such as job security, parent-friendly working hours and generous pensions. Another possible reason is their workload: the last lesson of the day often ends by mid-afternoon and teachers benefit from the long holidays granted to their students. However, they also toil outside the classroom, preparing for lessons, marking homework and being harangued by pushy parents. In a recent survey across 35 countries conducted by the Varkey Foundation, an education charity that favours higher status for teachers, the average respondent among 35,000 adults estimated that teachers worked 39 hours per week. Yet the average teacher among 5,500 surveyed claimed to work 43.

Despite underestimating teachers’ workload, people still think they are underpaid. In 28 of the 35 countries surveyed, teachers make less than the public deems fair. The average respondent said that a fair wage would be 31% more than teachers actually earn. However, not everyone who tells a pollster that pedagogues should be more generously paid will vote for higher taxes to make that easier. Nor will many parents cheer the idea of larger classes, which would also make it easier to pay teachers more.

This article is from our Graphic detail blog.