Teachers continue to leave in droves

About three percent of the total teachers in government schools left their profession last year 

Attrition: At least 19 teachers have left the teaching profession every month in the last five years.

Teachers who are considered central not only to the success and learning achievement of the students, but are also one of the key determinants of education quality are leaving at an annual attrition rate of four percent, according to the annual education statistics, 2015.

A total of 1,174 government schoolteachers resigned between 2011 and 2015. Of that last year alone, 198 teachers, roughly three percent of the total teachers in the government schools, left the teaching profession.

In the last five years, 672 teachers voluntarily resigned from the profession, 109 separated due to death and termination, 171 superannuated, 12 were compulsorily retired and 210 left the teaching force after their contract expired.

However, early this year 200 BEd graduates were recruited into the civil service and another 130 were recruited through post-graduate diploma in education at the end of last year.

As of May 2015, there are 8,605 teachers in the country, of which 3,505 are female. Majority of the total teachers at 7,887 teach in government schools.

The annual education statistics states that primary schools saw the highest number of teachers resigning at 393 in the last five-year followed by middle secondary schools at 281 teachers.  Another 277 teachers resigned from higher secondary schools and 12 from extended classrooms.

“The highest teacher attrition rate is noted at the primary level. This could be due to the number of the primary schools in Bhutan,” the report states. “However, at the secondary level, higher secondary schools have seen the highest teacher turnover over the past years.”

Between 2008 and 2015, the highest teacher turnover was noted among the expatriates and national contract teachers. About 544 national contract teachers and 524 expatriate contract teachers left the teaching force between 2008 and 2015. Similarly, over the same period, 612 regular teachers (civil servants) also left the teaching profession.

The report points out that from an almost total dependence on expatriate teachers in the 1960s, the Bhutanese education system has moved towards self-sufficiency.

Dependence on expatriate teachers however continues at the secondary levels and private schools recruit a comparatively large number of expatriate teachers. As of 2015, expatriate teachers make up about three percent of the total teaching force.

From 643 expatriate teachers in 2011, the number has dropped to 268 this year. There has been a notable increase in the proportion and absolute numbers of Bhutanese teachers in the public schools over the years, the report states.

Meanwhile despite the issue over BEd graduates not getting a job in the civil service last year, there was no major impact on enrolment in the two colleges of education. The enrolment instead increased by 118 trainees in 2014.

From a total enrolment of 2,589 in 2013, the number increased to 2,707 last year.

In terms of qualification, only 13 percent of the 7, 887 teachers in government schools have a Masters Degree and 14 percent have a PG Diploma. Teachers with a Bachelors Degree comprise 53.5 percent. About one percent of teachers have only a class X or XII certificate, while 6 teachers (0.1 percent) have a PhD Degree.

The report further states that although many factors combine to make a successful school and therefore a successful education system, a high quality teaching force is the most important factor for a success of the education system.

“This is especially crucial when the success of a school is defined by the ability of a school to raise the achievement of its students,” the report states.

Nirmala Pokhrel

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