More Filipino teachers off to jobs abroad

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 10:03:00 06/26/2009 Filed Under: Overseas Employment, Education, Philippines – Regions

MANILA, Philippines—The exodus of Filipino teachers to other countries is expected to continue in the coming years, according to a labor group.

The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) said on Wednesday two places were the likely magnets for Filipino teachers—the United States, which would need two million teachers in the coming decade, and Arab countries, which would need at least 450,000 teachers.

The group said teacher shortages, growing populations, and expanding educational systems in many other countries coupled with the dismal work conditions and salaries at home could push local teachers to go abroad.

“Demand for teachers across the United States continues to remain high even if the North American country’s economy is in a deep recession,” said Annie Enriquez-Geron, PSLINK general secretary.

“There are estimates that the United States will need to employ an additional two million teachers in the coming decade to maintain its current educational standards and closer to three million if it strives to improve them in order to stay globally competitive,” she added.

Geron said more than 10,000 foreign teachers are recruited by the United States every year to fill its demand.

“There is also very high demand for new science and math teachers in the US with estimates by the Business-Higher Education Forum in Washington putting the figure at 200,000 at the least,” she added.

In the last 10 years, around 4,000 Filipino teachers—mostly math, science, English, and special education teachers—left the country. This figure included only new hires for teaching jobs and did not include those who left the country for work other than teaching, the paper said.

The top destinations were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, the paper added.

According to a UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) study, Geron said, the Arab states will face “the greatest teacher shortage in the drive to provide every child with a primary education by 2015 as the region will need to raise the current stock by 26 percent and create another 450,000 teaching posts in less than a decade.”

“As more developed countries face a graying workforce, they are increasingly resorting to the recruitment of skilled teachers from less developed countries. This phenomenon had already been foreseen by (European) countries since the ’90s, warning that aging teaching forces may eventually lead to shortages,” Geron said.

“For instance, more than 60 percent of all primary teachers are over 40 years of age in Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands; and more than 40 percent are over 50 years old in Germany and Sweden,” she said.

Geron said another factor contributing to teacher shortages in more developed countries was the declining interest of their nationals in entering the teaching profession.

According to a survey conducted by the temporary staffing agency Manpower Inc., teaching is the second hardest job to fill in the US. Many of their nationals, the study said, would rather pursue other more financially rewarding careers than become a teacher. Low salary and unattractive working conditions were often cited as reasons not to enter the teaching profession, Geron said. (But for a teacher from a developing nation, salaries would still be significantly more than what they earn at home.)

“Unfortunately, instead of addressing employment conditions of the teaching sector, governments of more developed countries are finding it more convenient and economical to recruit migrant workers, many of whom are offered lower pay and contractual jobs that deprived them of their due benefits,” she added.

Geron said the dependence on migrant skilled teachers in developed countries was leading to aggressive recruitment strategies by their governments, recruitment agencies, and the private schools themselves.

“There have even been governments which have created special agencies just to recruit teachers from other countries. Private teacher recruitment agencies in the United Kingdom have mushroomed to more than 100 while there are more or less 70 in the United States,” she added.#


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