Education versus austerity

Why public sector wage bill constraints undermine teachers and public education systems -and must end

published 24 June 2022 updated 30 August 2022

At least 69 million more teachers are needed by 2030 to achieve the sustainable development goal on education, yet around the word existing teachers face low pay and deteriorating conditions, affecting the status of the profession. There is a clear common cause uniting low pay and teacher shortages – both arise from decades of squeezed public funding, triggered most directly by the imposition of public sector wage bills constraints.

Whether imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or by Ministries of Finance who adhere to the same neoliberal ideology and economic policy, public sector wage bill cuts and freezes have become a central flagship of wider austerity policies. Teachers are the largest single group on most public sector payrolls, so constraints on the overall wage bill disproportionally impact teachers, pushing down their pay and blocking new recruitments.

Download this policy brief to find out more about how IMF policies can be felt in the classroom.