Brazilian educators are celebrating a new law that establishes a national standard salary, bringing to an end decades of inequity between teachers’ salaries in different regions of the country.
Effective January 2009, the new law sets a National Professional Wage Floor for Teaching in basic public education at a minimum of 950 Brazilian Reais per month, equivalent to about 300 Euros. The Ministry of Education and Culture estimates that the new professional wage will directly benefit 1.5 million educators and, indirectly, 46 million students in Brazilian public schools. At a time of growing teacher shortages, the new professional wage may make it easier to attract young people into the profession.
Roberto Franklin de Leão, President of the Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (CNTE), said that “the new law is an important step in terms of recognition of the value of professional teachers.” Leão added that the whole society wins when the teaching force is highly valued and well qualified.
The CNTE has long struggled to close the huge wage gap between teachers in urban and rural schools. In the past, teachers working in small village schools were paid very poorly, and sometimes not at all. Under the new law, these teachers may see their salaries double, or even triple, to keep up with those paid to colleagues in Brasília, Rio de Janiero or other large cities.
Passage of the law is considered a historical milestone for the teachers’ union, and it came about only as a result of intense mobilization throughout Brazil and a national strike on 14 April this year. Teachers are the first group of professionals to have their national wage floor defined in the Federal Constitution, and they expect that other unions, especially those in the public sector, will see this legislation as a model.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that “nothing is worthier for a nation than to be outstanding for its high education index.” And he predicted that in the years to come, statistics will prove the importance of the measures implemented.