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Stadiums Vs. Schools: Slovakia's Misplaced Priorities

When at the end of 2012 thousands of Slovak teachers went on nationwide strike, demanding a 10-percent pay rise, they ended up getting only about 5 percent – along with the Education Minister's explanation that “if there was money in the state treasury box, teachers would get as much as 20 percent.”

Bratislava, Slovakia (Nov. 2012): a teacher is ringing a bell against low pay. Photo by Martina STRMEŇOVÁ, copyright © Demotix (11/26/12).

Bratislava, Slovakia (Nov. 2012): a teacher is ringing a bell against low pay. Photo by Martina STRMEŇOVÁ, copyright © Demotix (11/26/12).

Just a few months later, the same minister – Dušan Čaplovič – announced plans [sk] to spend 45 million euros (4.5 million euros annually over a ten-year period) on the construction of football stadiums all over the country, to be used by the top Slovak football league. This sum, which does not cover the construction of the new National Football Stadium in the capital Bratislava, is smaller than what the teachers’ raise would have amounted to in just one year. Still, the teachers are disappointed, and not just because of their own low salaries, but also because of the state's insufficient funding of education in general.

A banner on a school building in Slovakia reads: "The dignity of a teacher = The future of this country." Photo by Igor Svítok, copyright © Demotix (11/22/12).

A banner on a school building in Slovakia reads: “The dignity of a teacher = The future of this country.” Photo by Igor Svítok, copyright © Demotix (11/22/12).

Some in Slovakia suspect that the reason behind such misplaced priorities is the alleged involvement of the ruling party's sponsors in football business and construction industry. The Education Minister, however, talks of the planned stadium construction as a strategic decision in supporting the young generation.

The SME.sk article [sk] linked to above has generated hundreds of reader comments, and below are a few of them.

Kiixxela:

Stinkers, do not let them even try to pull the arguments about sports and the health of young people, because the foot of an [ordinary] mortal will not [be allowed to] enter those courts/playgrounds in a [whole] lifetime.

Aqua Viva:

Who are we going to build those football stadiums for? For those hooligans who will come there just to fight and ruin the stadium? How much does the deployment of police cost, to constantly monitor such matches?

belnea:

But how will we get to the stadiums? The roads are broken. [This year Slovak roads are in an extremely bad condition.]

mala pistacia:

What will [Slovakia's] unemployed do all the day? In the morning, they'll go to the labor office, in the evening – to a football game.

Timmy_A:

In addition, it is complete nonsense to build [a new] stadium here when only a couple hundred people usually come to the old Locomotive Stadium.

ja111:

But the poor mafia comrades have bought [...] football clubs and now they've run out of money [...] so the state must pay for it!

Cule de FCB:

Schools are collapsing over the heads of students and teachers. No reconstruction is necessary? It's better to donate money to a PRIVATE football club?

provokater128:

We're going to donate money for stadiums – where 20 times a year about 500 people come for football. And that is a falling school – where 200 days a year 500 children come and the wind blows at them in the classroom through a rotten window – but it does not matter.

Deju:

In Slovakia, schools have windows that are 50-60 years old, and because of it, it is cold in those schools and also lots of money is being wasted on heating. I think it is necessary to define the priorities. [...]

panza09:

hm, what would the 45 most devastated schools say to 84,000 euros per year…hmmmmmm

Chocholko [in reply]:

They would say, “It is a beautiful dream.”

iwko:

My girlfriend is a teacher, she got 5 percent more, but they took away all additions [to her base salary], so now she has 10 percent less, a university degree, works for the second year teaching English and brings home 400 euros [a month], and yes, she goes to work at 7am and finished at about 2pm, and in the afternoon she's also teaching at [a private] language school [to earn extra money].

fff01:

A photo with nice-looking athletes brings more votes to a politican than a photo with a satisfied teacher.

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