Education officers to report on loss of teachers

Stabroek News
September 12, 1999

Education officers will be asked to report to the Chief Education Officer on a daily basis beginning tomorrow on the impact the loss of teachers have on the school system.

Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Ed Caesar told reporters at a press briefing at the GTV Studios on Homestretch Avenue on Friday that monitoring schools will give an idea of how grave the problem of the loss of teachers was.

School reopens tomorrow and it is expected that many schools will be hit by a teacher shortage. Over 100 teachers have left the country to fill teaching vacancies in Botswana in south central Africa, Turks and Caicos, the Bahamas and Antigua over the holidays.

Caesar said that the ministry must have contingency plans in place to deal with the problem or "must begin to think what is possible". He said that it was not easy to replace experienced and graduate teachers who have had a lot of experience. If anyone says that they can be replaced that person's intention is to fool you, he said. It is not the quantum that one must be concerned with but the quality of the loss, he said adding that the ministry has a sense of how grave the problem is.

Caesar noted that each year on an average 15 to 20 teachers would apply for permanent trained teachers certificate. The certificates are issued after teachers would have been assessed and recommended, after teaching in the system for a while following their graduation from the teachers' training college.

For the last few weeks, he said, he has had a larger number of teachers requesting their certificates than in any one year. That, he said, has caused him even greater concern. Their requests state clearly that they want to be armed with their trained teachers certificate on "their departure". He added: "that indeed is a message so that one does not know what numbers one would be dealing with departure wise. One is aware that there would be a loss. One is aware, too, and can conclude now that if one is not careful, does not plan carefully the loss would be a serious one."

Only recently, he said, he recalled signing over 20 certificates "that is the amount I would sign in a year." He said that he was no using that as an indicator as to how many teachers have left the country for overseas posts but it may well be that if a teacher gets an offer, the teacher would be well armed.

The shortage and departure of teachers is not only a problem for any one sector but a national problem, he said. Noting that the teachers who are likely to leave are graduates and those who have the experience, he said that "it must be some concern for all of us especially those of us who man the sector".

He expressed the hope that the day would come when we as a nation would be able to compensate our teachers adequately not only financially but in other ways such as schemes for housing and other kinds of benefits that do not have major financial aspects.

He said that the Education Minister Dr Dale Bisnauth and the Permanent Secretary are looking at such fringe benefits for teachers.

Caesar has noted that some of the teachers have notified the Ministry that they are leaving. Giving an example of a typical reason for leaving, he said, the last teacher who came to inform him that he was leaving said that the offer overseas can make him financially sound for a little while.

Other teachers, Caesar said have applied for leave for all kinds of reasons. He said that the ministry cannot be certain how many teachers will not be in the schools until the term has begun. "Then we will know in a more concrete way the extent of the loss," he said.

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