Sunday Essays: Teachers demand abroad vs local education needs

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

THE demand for English Language proficiency is worldwide, and Filipinos are known to be among the more proficient despite being Asians.

According to ofwguide.com, Filipino teachers are highly regarded abroad due to their competence in academics especially in teaching the English language. Since many non-English countries are now expanding their curriculum adding English language as one of the subjects or courses, Filipino teachers are very in demand abroad.

Based on workabroad.ph data, leading countries which offer teaching jobs are from our neighboring countries like China and Singapore and from the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Western countries like US and New Zealand also hires competent teachers and instructors.

The Public Services Labor Independent Confederation (PSLINK) already predicted this on the year 2009 saying that the United States will need two million teachers in this coming decade, and Arab countries, which would need at least 450,000 teachers.

The group already said before that the 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.

According to the data in the years 1998-2008 around 4,000 Filipino teachers mostly Math, Science, English, and special education teachers left the country.

PSLINK also added 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.

For instance, in a data six years ago 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.

The PSLINK also stated that 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. 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.

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 had been also identified reasons for the influx of migration from the Philippines.

First is that the Philippine school system uses English as an official second language. Second is that the Philippines is a former colony, shares strong historical ties with the United States. Filipinos watch more American shows and knows more American history than any other countries in Asia.

Ironically, as much as we export our teachers abroad, our local schools suffer from shortage of teachers. According to World Bank data 2009, the Pupil-teacher ratio, primary in Philippines was 31.44 as of 2009. Its highest value over the past 38 years was 35.39 in 2002, while its lowest value was 28.00 in 1973.

According to GMA news TV report in 2012, there is a woeful average of 1:65 teacher-student ratio, a 3:1 student-book ratio, cramped classrooms, dirty toilets, and underpaid teachers.

These conditions urge our competent teachers to go abroad than staying here in our country. In the future, more and more teachers will aspire to work abroad because it pays a lot.

In the future those who are taught by our own teachers from the Philippines will develop more edge than the students of our own country. Our teachers may be good but as their talent, leadership competence, and their time will be more engaged for the development of other country rather than its own is simply threatening to us as a nation.

The rise of the number of the teachers working abroad left our own education system endangered in quality because there is less number of teachers who can teach each student, there is even shortage of teachers present.

Apart from that there is also brain drain in this country because the best teachers get different kinds of opportunities abroad, which means the best is deprived to us, and to our own country. This is indeed a disadvantage to us not only in the teaching profession but also in other fields.

Fortunately, DepEd has more budget this year 2014 with the total of P213.5 billion, the biggest in history. This perhaps would help the Philippines fulfill the lack of improvement of education. Hopefully this increase will urge the teachers to stay with us, and not to pay attention to the needs of other countries sacrificing and taking for granted the needs of our own country. (Karina Cañedo)

*****

Sunday Essays are articles written by Ateneo de Davao University students for their journalism class.

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