Gareth Thyer-Jones, Managing Director of Talented Teacher Jobs, considers the implications of the global shortage of teachers.
The UK is not the only country to have a teacher recruitment problem. According to the United Nations (UN) nearly half the countries in the world have an “acute” teacher shortage. Many countries have to have untrained teachers to teach in their classrooms and this in turn devalues the teaching profession as well as only providing an inferior education to students. It isn’t just schools and children that are suffering. There is now a commitment to lifelong learning, probably best defined by UNESCO:-
Every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their aspirations and contribute to their societies.
This implies that there should be more provision for adult education around the world. This make sense, as adults need to be trained to use new technology in order for the workforce to raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the countries they live in. An untrained workforce does not contribute to the GDP as much as one that is trained and well-educated.
However, if the global teacher shortages continue, and the world’s population continues to grow, the quality of education will not improve. The will to improve state schools is certainly present, but unless governments are prepared to increase education budgets and offer incentives to teachers and would-be teachers, future generations of children around the world will suffer.
It’s important that we give back to education to help raise awareness of issues across the globe that impact on us all. That’s why we have partnered with Think Global to make a contribution and ensure this message is heard across the world about key issues that face future generations and ours.
In Africa, which has the fastest-growing school-age population globally, 70 percent of countries have “critical” teacher shortages in their primary education sectors.
In countries such as Pakistan, Cambodia and Ethiopia, class sizes average 64 students. It is not surprising that teachers in such schools are demoralised, stressed and leaving the profession.
In low-income countries, teachers often must supplement their income by taking up second jobs. Of course, this means that when they go into class after not having sufficient time to relax, they become more stressed and disheartened.
In countries such as Finland, China, South Korea and Singapore, teachers are highly respected and valued. This is reflected in their pay scales. Teachers who are paid well tend to remain in the teaching profession, while others leave because they feel undervalued. Until teachers’ pay increases around the world, there will undoubtedly be teacher shortages and the quality of teachers in schools will not be of the best possible standard.
If you are thinking about taking a sabbatical and volunteering to work overseas, you might return feeling differently about your current job. it may not be ideal, but at least you are not working under the same constraints as most teachers in the global south.
On the other hand, if you are thinking of changing your current position, search Talented Teacher Jobs and you may find your dream job!
More reading on this issue:
- Quartz, 6 October 2016: African countries are facing the world’s worst teacher shortage
- Education in Crisis, 2015: Global Teacher Shortage Threatens Education 2030 – includes infographics (like the ones shown above) based on UNESCO statistics.
- World Economic Forum, December 2015: Where are the worst teacher shortages?
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