Pitara Kids Network

The Minister who Couldn’t Add

July 22: I want to say it simple and clear: I am bad at arithmetic. In school I could not even add up my marks in the annual report card. I could never figure out figures at all. So I have a sneaking sympathy for Miroslaw Handke for what happened to him recently. He lost his job because he couldn’t calculate.

Handke is the Education Minister of Poland. Probably, his math skills are as bad as mine but he still went on to calculate the money that his Ministry would mark for the running of schools in the annual budget. It is his job. But he bungled badly.

The Minister who Couldn’t Add [Illustration by Sudheer Nath]
While calculating, Handke forgot something very important. He had promised an extra amount of $3,50,000 to Poland’s municipal governments in the budget this year. The municipal governments in cities and towns run primary schools in Poland. The additional amount was meant to raise the pay of Polish schoolteachers. But the municipal government did not receive that extra money. Handke’s miscalculations saw to that. So how could the teachers’ salaries be raised?

Polish teachers have been looking forward to a raise in their salaries for a long time. They are poorly paid. It is easy to imagine their shock at finding out that there was no hike. It’s even easier to imagine their fury later when they found out why.

The teachers’ fury matches the government’s embarrassment. Imagine having an Education Minister who does not know how to calculate!

The result – Handke sent his resignation to the Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek. The Prime Minister said he would decide whether to accept his minister’s resignation or not. Let’s hope he calculates his future more sensibly.