North Macedonia: Low salaries deter young students from choosing teaching careers


The low salaries and the sizable administrative work in the education, but also the disrespect toward the teaching profession, is the reason that fewer and fewer prospective students in North Macedonia are choosing university studies in mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology. There are elementary and secondary schools that are facing a lack of computer science teachers, so they often must improvise and this school subject is often taught by other teachers who lack appropriate training. We spoke to several university professors on how to improve the situation and to lower the teachers deficit with the goal of providing the pupils with appropriate classes.


Depreciated profession

The dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Prof. Aleksandar Skeparovski, Ph.D., considers that the situation can change if the society’s relation toward the teaching profession changes, which in a way, has been depreciated.

“The interest for university studies has been declining, not just for mathematics, but also for physics, chemistry, biology. There are scholarships for some of these studies, i.e. those studies that should produce cadres for the branches with most vacancies, such as physics, mathematics and chemistry. The students receive €300 monthly during 9 months of the year. This approach was started less than 10 years ago and has had effect, but probably, not as much as the people from the Ministry of Education and Science expected when they implemented it,” Prof. Skeparovski says.

Prof. Gjorgji Markoski, Ph.D., from the Institute of Mathematics thinks that the reason for the low interest for the mathematics teaching jobs is the low wages.

“My colleagues teaching mathematics have told me that they feel disregarded compared to the other school subjects teachers. One of the injustices is that the mathematics teacher is sometimes evaluating over 200 school tests and reports in a single month. They are constantly overburdened, which isn’t the case with other school subjects, and at the end of the month they all get the same salary. They are overworked, but are receiving the same salary as the others, and this is demotivating them. This is the reason why the mathematicians are leaving the teaching profession and look for jobs at banks or insurance companies,” Prof. Markoski explains.


A burden of administrative duties 

Prof. Marina Stojanovska, Ph.D. from the Chemistry Institute says that a total of 8 students enrolled in the Chemistry teaching studies this year.

“This has been so not just this year… We have a few students, even though it is important to have more students. What matters most is that the do not only learn chemistry, since it is expected to know the material beforehand, but what matters most is for them to be able to put that into practice. This is what we have been practicing at the faculty. It is important for the student to know how to pass the knowledge in the school surrounding. It is not nice when one is working with two or three students, but an important segment of the lectures is the part that is named “hospitations” where the students teach instead of the teacher,” said Prof. Stojanovska

She also stresses the problem of the teachers having many administrative duties, which leaves very little time go be creative and to work with their pupils. She provided a recent example when a graduate of hers was immediately hired by a school because, simply, there is a lack of teaching personnel.

“If in the past the graduated professors had a hard time finding a job, now their employment is happening instantaneously,” said the professor.


The salary in the industry is higher than the state salary

The schools are facing a serious lack of computer science teachers, since the salaries in the industry are much higher than the state salaries.

“We have computer science teaching for the secondary schools studies offered at FINKI. We are offering these studies, but the number of students that have enrolled is tenfold smaller compared to the other studies. The high school graduates don’t choose to enroll there, but are taking other directions. They know that the commercial salaries are much higher than the state salaries. We cannot compete with the industry. What is important is that all the pupils should be computer literate since it will be necessary for all professions. When there is a lack of personnel, maybe professors working in other areas should be trained in order to provide quality computer studies education,” said Prof. Ivan Chorbev, Ph.D. dean at FINKI.

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