Finding a solution to teacher migration Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
April 4, 2002

Related Links: Articles on teaching
Letters Menu Archival Menu

THE migration syndrome has plagued developing countries for decades but heightened significantly during the period when many former colonies became independent.

This was due mainly to political turmoil, repressive dictatorships and the resulting economic hardships that replaced the colonial masters.

Of course, many people also migrated for personal reasons, including advancement of educational pursuits.

In addition, while many genuinely love their countries, they were and are caught in a dilemma of patriotism and the capacity to support themselves and families financially. As such, they are usually lured to the developed countries mainly because of economic reasons.

The end result is a massive "brain drain" from the developing to the developed countries, the ensuing cycle leading to a further deterioration of local economic and social conditions which triggered increased levels of migration.

However, in recent times the teaching profession seems to be particularly affected and of special significance is that migration is not limited to teachers leaving for North America.

They are recruited by other developing countries where remuneration is more lucrative, with Botswana and The Bahamas being two notable examples.

This situation is creating severe pressures on the education system here and elsewhere in the region.

Assistant Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Mr. Byron Blake noted Tuesday that recruitment of teachers is now being done in an organised way by governments. In the past it was mainly an individual initiative, and this new trend will obviously impact more on the situation.

Mr. Blake said the more experienced teachers with special skills are targeted for recruitment. Touching on the economic implications of migration, he said the human resource is the key to economic advancement and that is what the region is being drained of, while other sections of the society are deprived of the use of the skills of teachers.

Migration also puts a financial strain on economies because huge sums are invested in teacher training programmes.

However, in an interesting suggestion and citing the example of India, Mr. Blake said "the third border initiative" could be one of the solutions to teacher migration in the region.

He explained that India, which has a very stable situation as regards its scientists, has adopted a system whereby scientists are free to migrate for about three years and then return to their jobs without any loss of benefits or status.

Since the problem affects several CARICOM countries, it should be tackled collectively and with a sense of urgency.

There is no easy solution, but Mr. Blake's suggestion could be an avenue to be explored.

At a macro-level the struggle initiated by the late President Cheddi Jagan for a New Global Human Order has to be intensified and expanded, because gross disparities between the rich and poor countries will continue to be a major contributory factor in the migration syndrome.

The teacher migration situation has reached a point where Guyana has to grab the bull by the horns and find a solution.