Desperate Times Calls For Desperate Measures: SA Teachers In Mass Exodus For Greener Pastures

By  |  August 7, 2019

The South African economy has been struggling for the first half of the year. Massive retrenchments, high unemployment rates, shrinking private sector activities have continued to paint a grim picture of the Southern African country’s ailing economy.

In a bid to better their living conditions, many people, more so professionals are leaving South Africa for greener pastures overseas.

Last month, the South African Institution of Civil Engineering raised concerns that the country is losing valuable skills in the form of engineers leaving the country. Young and qualified engineers were leaving the country to use their skills abroad.

The trend is moving to teachers as now, many young and qualified South African teachers are leaving their jobs and moving abroad.

The South African Council of Educators (SACE) spoke to the Citizen saying that the massive exits are of great concern.

SACE Spokesperson highlighted that this is not the first time the country is experiencing the “dire situation”.

“We also dealt with this issue about a year or two ago after we realised that qualified South African teachers were leaving the country in their numbers to go abroad seeking greener pastures,” he said.

Over the years thousands of teachers have ditched the Southern African countries for bigger perks abroad.

The tutors who take up these jobs are offered flight allowances together with their family, housing, medical insurance, among other attractive perks. In addition, they are guaranteed of an annual salary increment.

Notably, in many developed countries such as the US, UK, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia, the teaching profession is ageing because it no longer attracts young people. The trend is what has lead to huge shortages of teachers prompting these countries to lure teachers from developing countries to fill the gaps.

The teacher migration issue in South Africa begun in the 1990s after the government painted a picture that there was an oversupply of teachers in the country.

Data from SACE shows that South Africans constitute the majority of foreign teachers in the United Kingdom.

Figures by Statistics South Africa also estimates that an average of 1 000 skilled people (including teachers) leave South Africa for other countries every month. “This is a dire situation and it is not the first time that it is raised,” said SACE spokesperson Thembinkosi Ndhlovu.

An earlier report by CapRelo, a relocation company that compares the average annual wage around the world showed that SA teachers earn an average of USD 19,452 (R273,209) annually, a figure which is far less than the global average of USD 27,175 (ZAR 404,251).

“Teachers, especially experienced ones, leaving the profession is not good for the country as invested knowledge and skills are needed,” said Ndhlovu.

While these teachers emigrate, the ability to provide quality education to future generations is compromised, because a vacuum is left. Ndhlovu added that the massive exodus is “leaving the country in short supply of valuable experience and good teachers.”

Featured Image Courtesy: Imgflip

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