3.6 percent of teachers leave the profession on average every year

Yangchen C Rinzin

The education ministry lost 163 teachers between June 2019 to July 2020, according to the Annual Education Statistics 2020.

Of the total, 112 teachers voluntarily resigned due to personal reasons. This means on average 10 teachers voluntarily resigned every month last one year.

Superannuation, and expiry of a contract, were other major reasons besides voluntary resignation for teachers leaving the noble profession.

Three teachers left on compulsory retirement following administrative action or termination, another 27 superannuated, six left after the expiry of their contract, 15 left for other reasons like unfortunate events and transfer out of school system to join other agencies.

The teachers’ attrition rate this year stands at 1.9 percent. However, every year there has been an increase in the number of teachers leaving voluntarily.

A total of 1,254 teachers have resigned voluntarily in the last six years, according to the record maintained with the ministry. More than 200 teachers left the profession voluntarily since 2016 and 112 have already left the profession by July 2020.

This is happening despite an increase in teacher salary and incentives to make the teaching profession attractive.

Many teachers shared that the attrition rate could have decreased this year because of Covid-19 pandemic since many could not move abroad. “Many go abroad on extra-ordinary leave (EOL) and later resigns once they are settled.”

A teacher from Phuentsholing said that while the pay hike was appreciated, moving abroad for work was still an attractive option.

“Many friends who went on EOL have decided to resign. Had it not been for the pandemic, I would have also tried, as I have already registered for the IELTS test.”

Teachers said that even if a teacher leaves the profession, it should be a concern for both the ministry and the government. “The salary hike is not only the option to make teachers stay,” a teacher said. “The number of teachers resigning would increase by next year.”

Going by the education statistics, on average, 3.6 percent of teachers leave the education system annually.

In total, 1,738 teachers have left the system from 2015 till 2020, of which, 1,300 are from civil service and the lowest was from the earmarked contract teachers.

Over the last six years, the number of expatriate teachers has been decreasing while the number of national teachers increased. There are 148 expatriate teachers as of 2020 in both public and private schools against 10,052 Bhutanese teachers.

As of 2019, 2,502 teacher trainees were pursuing B.Ed and PGDE programmes in the two colleges of education. Today, there are 147 counsellors in 609 public and private schools, including extended classrooms in the country.

The voluntary resignation comes at a time when the ministry saw 317 students dropout this year alone.

“These students may or may not come back, but teachers who have left the profession will not,” a teacher from Punakha said. “The ministry should come up with interventions to retain seasoned teachers.”

The highest dropout rate was in grade X, followed by grade V according to the education statistics report.

Kuensel could not reach education ministry officials for comment.