Teachers are leaving Jamaica for better jobs

Airplane in the sky
Airplane in the sky (Photo credit: Pixabay)

With just a few weeks for the new school semester to begin, there are already 400 teachers who have left the profession to relocate overseas for lucrative jobs. Reports coming from the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) have alerted Jamaica to be prepared for more teachers to migrate.

The JTA president, Winston Smith, revealed in media reports that many more will not be returning to the classroom in September, as teachers cannot continue to live below their means. “There are many others who have probably gone and I don’t know yet. You will have plenty more leaving and I will not say to a teacher, don’t leave. If you care, demonstrate that you care and pay the teachers properly,” he said.

“There is a severe shortage of teachers worldwide [and] the teachers of Jamaica…are seen as among the best in the world. Two countries told me personally that Jamaica and the Philippines have the best quality trained teachers, but the Jamaican teachers are ahead because the teachers speak English properly, while the Filipinos, though they speak English, their accent makes it difficult. Therefore, the recruiters will be coming to Jamaica to get as many as possible from us; people are saying if they don’t want to stay in the classroom, why they don’t go. Well we are taking their advice,” he added.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Fayval Williams said that there is no cause for alarm at this point as she shared her perspective on the mass migration of teachers. She noted that teachers leave the system every year for reasons such as retirement, also that in any given year, between five and seven per cent of teachers are on their earned leave, for example, which means that there is always a need for temporary and permanent replacement teachers. However, she was not aware of the specific numbers of those who are leaving the system due to migration.

“So, there is turnover in the sector but, to date, I’m not seeing where it’s out of line with anything that we would have seen in other years. If that number changes as we move further into August, then it would be an update. But as far as I can see we have gone through the normal process of approving leave for persons who are eligible to go on their leave [and] teachers who retire. I have not seen any numbers that would cause alarm at this time,” Williams explained. Williams noted that focus must now be turned to the upcoming school year to ensure that all preparations are in place for students to return.

The education ministry will again renew its efforts to bring back students to the classroom, which it has not been able to account for, since 2020. The ministry, she said, was working hard to ensure a seamless start to the 2022 school year.

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