Teacher retention: some policy positions

Cross Border Career Stretch in the Teaching Profession (cont’d)

Since the idea is not to prevent but rather to facilitate an overseas career for those who wish it and have performed well, government can be more proactive in arranging such recruitment and putting reengagement incentives in place.  Here the various protocols and arrangements emanating from the above mentioned regional and Commonwealth discourses are most useful, but since our intention is also to maintain contact, the following are some other arrangements that may be considered:

*  The government could make arrangements with reputable recruitment agencies in the host countries.
*  On some equitable basis, creditable teaching careers abroad can be counted as service done in the originating country. This will allow easier reengagement at any career point.
*  Opportunities can be provided for the payment of pension contributions and thus the receipt of pensions in the originating country. This could have other obvious economic benefits.
*  It may be possible to organise for leave periods to be worked and remunerated in the country of origin. This might intermittently introduce new advanced experiences into the education system and facilitate, for example, the introduction of a system of summer and other remedial classes.

The point is to do such things as will provide incentives for reengagement and/or a continued contribution to the originating education system.

Policy Implications

1.  Devise performance appraisal process, for teachers and managers, based upon the required standards.
2.  Institute a rigorous system to see that appraisals are completed in a timely fashion.  (This task is added to the monitoring schedule & the school inspection system must take special note of it.)
3.  Insist that references are given based upon the authorized system.
4.  Outline, cost and implement an entire system of teacher support taking into consideration the new technology.  This cost should be reflected in 5.
5. Devise a recruitment and training project that will reduce the effects of migration.
6.  Open discussions for compensation by the receiving countries. Given countries may support different aspects of the project.
7.  Open discourses with recruiters to devise a system more geared to our interest.
a. Let recruiters know our authorized documentation.
i. We must devise a standard recommendation form which we will send along with any other required documentation.
ii. Establish list of recruiters with contact information
b. Let them know that we are committed to Commonwealth Teachers Recruitment Protocol.
c. Let them know we intend to be more proactive with regards to Ministry and teachers’ interests.
d. Let them know that we are prepared to engage in discussions.
e. Let them know that we are prepared to recruit for them the best who want to leave.
f. Let them know that a cost is attached to this process.
i. Cost of recruitment admin – part of our record keeping, etc.
ii.  Cost of retention pension.
iii. Help with training
iv. Cost of remigration is required.
v. Programme to upgrade recruits.
8.  What does it cost to establish and run the recruitment system? Need someone who knows about this to help: possibly privities.
9.  Establish a career linkage and pensions and service contribution system which will allow teachers to relocate or make contributions to the education system with minimal disturbance but is not a push factor.
10. Organise upgrading summer programmes of various kinds for teachers and pupils in which overseas teachers may participate.

These recommendations have been crafted to suit the specific conditions of Guyana but they may have wider application.  They presuppose much of what is usually proposed to make the life of teachers more bearable and much of what is already being done at regional and other levels to make the recruitment process more fair and transparent.  After decades of teacher training, only about 50% of the teachers in the education system are trained. The plan is to increase this to 80% by 2015. However, we need to find other ways to improve output and the above is one suggestion.

Conclusion

The above is a statement of the major policy actions thought necessary in 2004 when the approach to teacher migration was devised. However, let me make three points by way of conclusion and to cover some observations that have occurred to me.

Firstly, the emphasis on teacher retention in no way suggests that I consider it more important than other inputs – parental involvement, continuous curriculum reform and most importantly, effective school management – in the delivery of quality education. Indeed, in our particular context and in relation to our education system as a whole, I believe that an alternative pathways approach (with a strong technical and vocational content) which seeks to take into consideration the inherent aptitude of all children is the most essential at this stage.

Secondly, my generalised contention about the overall scope of government budgetary provisions, while sufficient to the task at hand can in no way gainsay the need for further disaggregation when particular sectors of the education system, e.g. primary, secondary, tertiary, are being considered. For example, I have recently made the point that it is generally accepted that since tertiary education is more expensive countries need to spend comparatively more on this sector. (“Gov’t can do more to fund university education:” SN: 15/02/2012)

Thirdly, it might be thought that given our recent political history there is a fundamental utopianism underlying my stated objective for these interventions on education and teacher emigration. I have stated that our present political relations are too confrontational for us to make substantial national forward movement and that the education sector, and teacher emigration in particular, may be an area around which we may be able to build some kind of consensus which may have beneficial spin-offs in other directions.

Maybe, just maybe, “Only utopia can save us!”

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