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New contract rewards special roles while basic pay stays low;Briefing;International

Teachers in Italy have signed a new contract. For the first time, posts of special responsibility (co-ordinators) are given financial recognition - 3 million lire (pound;1,035) a year, and from the year 2001 teachers with more than 10 years' service will be able to take a "superteacher" exam which, if they pass, will bring in a further 6m lire (pound;2,070).

In addition, teachers working in "risk" areas, where drop-out rates are high, will be paid a special allowance.

But the basic monthly increase of 200,000 lire (pound;68), barely covers inflation, and leaves teachers among the poorest in Europe, with a take-home pay of about 2,300,000 lire (pound;795) after 10 years' service.

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