KP Sharma

Despite the widespread discussion about teachers leaving the profession in droves, the overall teacher attrition rate decreased to 371 teachers last year from 478 teachers in the previous year, reflecting a 0.7 percent drop.

On average, 3.8 percent of teachers left public schools in 2023 due to reasons such as voluntary resignation, superannuation, and contract expiration.

Although no study has been conducted, education officials attribute the decrease to factors such as pay hikes and improvements in the overall working environment, among other reasons.

Some speculate that the high attrition in 2022 was influenced by the prolonged closure of borders for more than two years—when borders were opened, there was a surge in people seeking opportunities abroad.

It is also learned that some considerations were made in renewing the contracts of contract teachers, allowing them to extend their tenure for a longer duration. Unlike the past years, when such renewals were not permitted, leading to a surge in the number of resignations.

In 2023, 284 teachers resigned voluntarily, 35 due to superannuation, 24 upon contract expiry, eight through compulsory resignation, and 24 for other reasons.

In terms of service type, 347 were regular teachers, and 24 were contract teachers.

Comparing in five years, the number of resigning teachers was 480 in 2019, 163 in 2020, 353 in 2021, 478 in 2022, and 371 in 2023.

The trend showed a steady increase in teacher resignations in 2019, followed by a drop in the resignation rate in 2020. The attrition rate then rose again to 478 in 2022 before decreasing to 371 in 2023.

When compared with the past years, the attrition rate has been consistently rising each year, except for 2020 when it stood at 1.9 percent. It increased again in 2022 to 4.5 percent and experienced a slight decrease last year to 3.8 percent.

One contributing factor to the overall decrease was the drastic reduction in resignations due to contract expiry, with only 24 cases in 2023 compared to 110 in 2022.

In addition, voluntary resignations decreased to 284 in 2023 from 307 in 2022.

In total, 1,829 teachers exited the system over the past five years, comprising 1303 regular teachers and 526 contract teachers.

Over the past six years, there has been a decline in the number of expatriate teachers, while the number of national teachers has shown a slight increase, though witnessing a minor drop last year.

As of 2023, the combined total of expatriate teachers in public and private schools is 77, whereas the count of Bhutanese teachers stands at 10,081.

The majority of expatriate teachers, constituting 74 percent, are found in higher secondary schools, followed by 13 percent in middle secondary schools (MSS), nine percent in primary schools (PS), and the lowest percentage is in lower secondary schools at 4 percent.