Illustrative photo – Faculty of Arts in Hradec Králové (pictured on June 12, 2019).
Prague – Dissatisfied university teachers from the faculties of philosophy (FF) will go on strike if the government does not adequately respond to their demands by March 28. Representatives of academics reported this on social networks. Academics are demanding more money for universities from the state budget and the equalization of wage rates between individual fields of study at universities. On Tuesday, March 28, university teachers will organize a protest called the Hour of Truth. It will be held in Prague and Olomouc, the organizers of the event informed. Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education (MŠMT) Aneta Lednová told ČTK that a material with proposed solutions is being prepared, which the office and the government will deal with.
Representatives of the University Trade Union (VOS) Petr Baierl and František Kratochvíl previously told ČTK that on Teachers' Day on March 28, they want to inform, among other things, through lectures and discussions, how, in their opinion, social science and humanities fields at universities are underfunded. Teaching will be adapted to this, for example, at Charles University in Prague and Palacký University in Olomouc (UPOL).
A protest rally will also be held in the premises of FF UPOL on March 28 at 1:00 p.m. “If we do not have an appropriate response from the Government of the Czech Republic in time, a strike will be announced,” says the Facebook page for the Hour of Truth event. According to the organizers of the event, the strike would be manifested, among other things, by the limitation of teaching.
The organizers of the protest, who are also signed to a petition in support of the humanities and social sciences, demand equalization of wage rates between individual fields at universities and an increase in the university budget.
Academics have recently drawn attention to the growing disparity in funding for kindergartens, primary and secondary schools compared to universities. The remuneration of teachers in regional education has increased in recent years, on the contrary, many academics from the fields of humanities and social sciences are leaving to work outside higher education due to insufficient earnings. For example, according to Jan Stejskal, chairman of the Association of Deans of Philosophical Faculties and dean of the Faculty of Arts UPOL, there is a risk that these fields will have few teachers in the future and will have to limit teaching.
Minister of Education Vladimír Balaš (STAN) promised earlier that he would deal with the situation at universities. According to the director of the higher education section at the Ministry of Education, Radka Wildová, the working group whose creation Balaš initiated is now dealing with the salary policy at the university. “We are currently working on material that will be dealt with by both the Ministry of Education and Culture and the government. The content of the material will be an analysis of the wage situation at universities and proposed solutions, both immediate and long-term, towards the state and universities,” said Lednová today. She added that the wage policy and determining the number of employees is exclusively within the competence of the universities.
The Czech Conference of Rectors (ČKR) and the Council of Universities (RVŠ) also draw attention to the underfunding of higher education. According to RVŠ, the share of money from the ministry's budget should be clear for universities, or the share of the university budget should be at least 0.6 percent of GDP. The ČKR and VOS expressed similar opinions.
MŠMT spokeswoman Aneta Lednová said that 30.9 billion CZK is earmarked for education at public universities this year, i.e. more than last year. According to material available to ČTK, the ministry wants ten billion more for universities in 2024 than this year.