Luxembourg Knows How to Value and Treat Teachers

Many other countries are great at paying lip service only

As we approach Teachers Day next month, I feel it is time we get real about teaching and teachers.

This is especially true in the Malaysian context. For far too long, teachers have had to cope with frequent changes in policies and approaches.

Many feel overburdened with a host of additional administrative duties that take up too much of their time.

Time to be spent in the classroom is oftentimes sacrificed because these teachers have to attend meetings and briefings conducted by school principals / senior assistants or education department personnel.

Teaching is a Noble Profession?

There is still that widely held perception by some that teaching is a noble profession.

But do these people, society in general and governments that regard teaching as a noble profession back up that perception by instituting clear policies and programmes that actually translate into that commitment? No, they do not.

Much too often this convenient saying is trotted out on Teachers’ Day in an insincere attempt to flatter the serving teachers. It is merely meant to create a ‘feel good’ atmosphere for the day. It is also an example of lip service of the worst kind.

If we continue to believe in teaching being a noble profession, then surely our policies and programmes to ensure this does happen, must ring true.

Best of Us Would be Teachers

Lee Iacocca, the famous former chairman and chief executive officer of Chrysler Corporation in the United States once remarked candidly:
“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less”.

He and Chrysler Corporation believed that education needs to attract and retain the best of us. But that won’t happen as long as teaching ranks near the bottom of all our professions in pay and prestige. Real, concrete efforts and solutions are needed to elevate the status of teachers.

If we continue to believe in teaching being a noble profession, then surely our policies and programmes to ensure this does happen, must ring true.

Great Countries for Teachers

Is there a country in this world where teachers are truly treated with respect, have high status and earn good salaries? Or is this just a pipe dream?

Yes, there is such a country. No, it is not Shangri La in some distant corner of the universe.

Luxembourg is a great country for teachers.

It is the second richest, land-locked country in the world. It is in Western Europe. With a population of almost 600,000 inhabitants, most of whom are typically tri-lingual, this Grand Duchy is also one of the safest countries in the world.

In terms of physical size, it is slightly smaller than Rhode Island in the US.

According to data released by OECD, the starting salary for a high school teacher in Luxembourg is US$ 79,000. The peak salary for a senior teacher is US$ 137,000.

Opinion polls in that country have shown that teaching is Finland’s most admired profession!

By stark comparison, the average American teacher makes US$ 44,000 and peaks at US$ 67,000.

Most Admired Profession

Another country that knows how to value and treat teachers well is Finland.

In Finland, high-quality teachers are the hallmark of Finland’s education system.

Opinion polls in that country have shown that teaching is Finland’s most admired profession!

Factors that Contribute to that High Reputation

Believe it or not – primary school teaching is the most sought-after career in Finland.

The attractiveness of teaching has much to do with four factors:
i. the rigorous selection process;
ii. the work itself;
iii. the working conditions; and
iv. simply, respect for teachers.

Teachers are required to hold a master’s degree.

Where Teachers are Well Paid

Here is a list of the ten countries where teachers enjoy the best salaries:

  • Luxembourg,
  • Switzerland,
  • Germany,
  • Korea,
  • United States,
  • Austria,
  • Netherlands,
  • Canada,
  • Ireland and
  • Japan.

Here’s wishing all teachers everywhere a truly Happy Teachers Day.


2 thoughts on “Luxembourg Knows How to Value and Treat Teachers

  1. Hi Ben!
    You’re spot on with your observations on the plight of teachers and the teaching profession in the local context.
    In fact, as everyone knows, the education system has been in a state of flux (dare I say – mess?) for a very long time with, as you point out, countless changes in policies, priorities and approaches.
    So when this brew of ill-conceived decisions and indecisions hits the fan everyone gets splattered :
    * the teachers who are instructed, flavour-of- the-month style, to be be fish one day and fowl the next
    * the poor parents who wonder WTH is happening
    * the silent sufferers : the unfortunate students
    * and, of course, finally the country itself when these students eventuality graduate and enter the job market.

    I’ve packed my bags – Luxembourg here I come!

    Cheers, Ben, keep on writing with that fluent pen of yours.

    1. We lacked the necessary determination to stay focused. Far too many petty political considerations got in the way of formulating a proper, solid educational policy that could stand the test to times.

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