Golden hello payments to attract teachers back to the classroom in Moldova

In Moldova teacher training graduates are being offered one-off payments of €10,000 to take up jobs in secondary schools as the EU candidate country struggles with persistent staffing shortages.

The payments are part of a range of measures being adopted to recruit and retain staff in a system with an annual shortage of 2,000 teachers – representing around 5% of the 45,000 classroom instructors.

The payments represent nearly two years’ worth of salary in a country where the average gross monthly wage for a teacher is €500, a little below the national average of 11,000 lei (€550).

Galina Rusu, State Secretary for Vocational Education Training and the National Qualifications Framework, said the entry bonuses were being offered to graduates of pedagogical colleges up to the age of 35 in an attempt to fill gaps that, in some cases, threaten to interrupt the legal minimum for teaching hours in some subjects.

“The shortage means that some schools struggle to cover the statutory number of hours in some subjects – maths, physics,” she said. “Once in the profession, most teachers tend to stay in education.”                                        

An associate professor of maths and former Dean of the Faculty of Maths and Computer Science at Moldova State University in Chisinau, Prof. Rusu said that feedback from former teaching colleagues suggested the one-off payments were an attractive incentive.

Other means of recruiting and retaining staff are also being employed: teachers willing to relocate to rural schools – where staff shortages are most acute – are being offered additional inducements, including payments to cover utility bills and local rate demands where they live.

There is also a new €300,000 national programme of teacher training across general education and vocational education and training that provides free in-service tuition for teachers to upgrade their skills, and a new performance-based payment system to reward the best teachers.

A national media campaign is also planned this academic year to advertise the benefits of a career in teaching and bring society on board, Prof. Rusu added.

But more needs to be done, she admitted.

“It would be interesting to understand and analyse what other kinds of motivation we can offer for teachers to come into the system and stay in the profession.”

A new EU programme in which Moldova is participating – the Education Reforms and Skills in Eastern Partnership programme – could hold the answer. The three-year programme, to be implemented in 2024–26, will use a new evidence-based methodology, the Rapid Education Diagnosis, to elicit information about the strength and weaknesses of a country’s education system. Five countries in the Eastern Partnership region – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – are participating in the programme, which is designed by the European Commission’s DG NEAR and is to be implemented by the ETF.

Moldova has the funding and places at pedagogical colleges available for a new generation of teachers, Prof. Rusu said.

“With the help of this new programme, we hope that within three years we shall not have such a big shortage of teachers.”

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