Teaching at Risk - Teacher Mobility and Loss in Commonwealth Member States

Case Studies & Research
55 p.

This report results from a long series of efforts by members of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Ministers, and friends of the Commonwealth to develop international understanding of the teaching profession and the global challenge of teacher loss. According to the October 2002 seminal study by UNESCO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the number of school-aged children outpaced the growth in the number of teachers worldwide in the 1990s, packing classrooms in some developing countries with as many as 100 students per teacher. If qualified and competent teachers are not in place well before 2015, serious obstacles will remain and the goal of 'Education for All' and achieving universal access to primary education will not be met.iiTeacher loss is a global phenomenon which is impacting both industrialised and developing nations in the Commonwealth. Reasons include teacher mobility and recruitment by other countries, disaffection with the teaching environment leading to a career change, or death due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A particular concern has been the recruitment of teachers from developing Commonwealth countries, and small states, in particular, that are hardest hit when teaching resources dwindle. In a country with less than 1.5 million people, with scarce human resources, teachers cannot be easily replaced. Consideration needs to be given by industrialised countries, which benefit from the migration of teachers to their countries, to ways of mitigating this negative impact on the loss of human capital in developing countries. Concern is also expressed about the unethical practices of recruitment agencies and the conditions under which foreign teachers who have been recruited are obliged to serve.In July 2002, Ministers of Education and their representatives from eight Caribbean countries met at the "Savannah" in Barbados to address the problem of teacher loss and recruitment. In The Savannah Accordiii they called upon Commonwealth Ministers of Education in general, and the thirty-two Ministers of Education of Small States in particular, to develop a draft protocol/code of practice for the recruitment of teachers in the Commonwealth. In June 2003, following revision and review by the Commonwealth Secretariat Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division (LCAD), Human Rights Unit, Economic Affairs Division, Political Affairs Division, Health and Education Sections, and the Commonwealth Teachers grouping legal counsel, the protocol was circulated to all 54 Ministers of Education. In July 2003, the Protocol was published on the Commonwealth Secretariat website and circulated widely. The Protocol, "calls upon the governments of industrialised countries to insist that agencies and businesses that handle teacher recruitment do so in an ethical manner, exercising the highest standards of human resource management practice (Protocol A). It proposes that the governments of industrialised countries benefiting from recruitment engage on a bilateral basis in supporting those countries whose teacher stock is depleting, through a specific development assistance response to enable them to better supply the demand for their teachers (Protocol B). Finally, it asks developing countries that have felt the impact of teacher loss due to migration to embark on good practices in human resource retention in order to make the teaching-learning environment more conducive to teachers remaining (Protocol Annex).In July 2003, arrangements were made with the University of Oxford to conduct a study on teacher loss in the Commonwealth to inform the discussion of the Protocol, to understand the context and circumstances of teacher loss, and to meet the objectives outlined in the Savannah Accord.

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