March 18th, 2018
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Shortage of teachers – a worldwide problem

58% of countries and territories around the world currently do not have enough teachers in classrooms to achieve universal primary education.
EdChron Desk on September 1, 2014 - 3:42 pm in Africa, Asia, Australia & NZ, Business, EdNews, MAIN, U.K., U.S., World


WORLD – Imagine a world without teachers.

In the past 24 hours alone, several reports of teacher shortages have surfaced online. The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) has called on the Government to address the teacher shortage in schools and mainstream curriculum. In New Mexico, the Business Insider reports some 87,000 students are due to return to Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) on Wednesday but the district is still looking for 392 staff, including 198 teachers. Many schools in the United States are still short of teachers and are hiring.

The US Department of Education has identified teacher shortage areas (TSA) nationwide in March 2014 by state. The list can be found here.

Teacher shortage a global problem

The global shortage of teachers at the primary and lower secondary levels of education will persist to 2030 and beyond, according to UNESCO Institute for Statistics. New projections, released by the UIS for the first time to mark World Teachers’ Day, indicate that 1.6 million new teaching posts will need to be created to achieve universal primary education by 2015. This number will rise to 3.3 million by 2030. At the lower secondary level, which is compulsory in a growing number of countries, 3.5 million new posts will be needed by 2015, and 5.1 million by 2030.

According to UIS data in late 2013, about 58% of countries and territories around the world currently do not have enough teachers in classrooms to achieve universal primary education (UPE). The data below shows the shortage of primary level teachers:

Universal Primary Education

While it is by no means acceptable, understandably schools in rural areas of developing nations face teacher shortage due to the geographical concentration of affluence. Big cities would have enough (or even an overpopulation) of teacher and applicants, but small towns and countryside schools would have to struggle with inadequate staffing. Laos is facing such an issue.

Thailand’s former education minister Chaturon Chaisang noted the issue of teacher shortage was most serious at small schools.  While the teacher-to-student ratio sits at 1: 24 in Thailand, teachers in rural schools were taking one class on their own for all subjects. With one teacher teach Math, Science, English and Thai, Mr Chaisang had hoped to amend a regulation to ensure that the government could assign teachers to schools to facilitate a better educational quality. But he has been replaced since the coup.

Perils of teacher shortage

When there is a shortage of quality teachers, schools have to plug the gaps. This means finding substitute teachers, or in some cases, just teachers to be in class just for the sake of having one overlooking the students. Not only quality of education is affected, but the instability affects the school’s administrative planning. It goes without saying students are of course affected by the lack of sustained quality, consistent teaching methods and stability.

According to UIS, the problem is here to stay for the foreseeable future:


Retaining teachers

This chronic problem of teacher shortage is exhausting – not only for the administration, but also for students. Houston ISD spokesperson Sheleah Reed says schools district-wide lost 25 to 40 teachers since last school year but this kind of turnover is nothing new. “We always need to fill about 1,700 vacancies every year,” she explained.

Consider the teaching industry as a professional workforce; the elements that drive an employee to leave the company he works for are mostly universal. Are these factors sticking out more prominently in the education industry? Bamboo HR conducted a survey to find out the breaking point of employees:

Why employees quit

While these reasons may be common motivation for any professional in their own industry, there must be common grounds on how the education industry is globally operating to face such a pandemic. Countries with lack of funds, corrupted officials (leading to lack of funding in education) and political instability are obviously facing shortages not only in the teaching sector, but across all industries. But what about developed, first-world countries and in the US, UK, Europe and Asia?

Can we truly arrest the problem and find the solution?


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