478 teachers left the system in 2022
Teachers leaving the education system is increasing yearly, with 2022 witnessing 478 teachers leave the system because of reasons ranging from voluntary resignation to contract expiration and others. However, the concern arises as the majority of those leaving the system are those who are voluntarily resigning.
According to the Annual Education Statistics 2022, released recently, 307 teachers voluntary resigned in 2022. It is followed by 110 teachers who left the system due to contract expiration; 32 teachers superannuating and 7 teachers resigning due to compulsory resignation.
While the Education Statistics 2022 does not mention why teachers are voluntarily resigning, a teacher who did not want to be named said several teachers have left the country for greener pastures abroad, especially to Australia. “The reasons are similar to most civil servants resigning and includes, frustration, that is ignited and augmented by low morale, lack of a good career path, and financial incentives,” he said. He also pointed out that heavy workload and limited opportunities to grow are other factors.
Another teacher added that she would have resigned too, if not for the COVID 19 pandemic. “I had everything ready to move to Australia, but the pandemic struck and now I have some personal reasons preventing me from resigning,” she said.
According to her, teachers are one of the least cared civil servants. “I do not see any incentive to continue working as a teacher. Though it is our personal choice, the community and country as a whole need to revisit the important roles teachers play,” she added. Underlining that teachers are considered those who have not been able to make it as a “career civil servant,” she said there is lack of growth and advancement within the teaching profession. “I will remain a teacher until I superannuate,” she added.
Another teacher said that apart from the above mentioned reasons, teachers undergo severe mental pressure from leaders and even parents. “When people have to work under severe stress, they can burn them out and this is what is happening,” he mentioned. He further alluded to teachers “who need to function as principal, teacher, cook and everything.” “There are teachers doing so and they are hardly recognized. After sometime, they arrive at a juncture where they begin to question why they need to remain as teachers when there are opportunities like going to Australia. There are several friends who left the system and the country because of similar reasons,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Education Statistics 2022 states that 1,780 public school teachers have left the educational system over the last five years, including 1,237 regular teachers and 543 contract teachers. A steady rise in teacher resignations was witnessed between 2017 and 2019. However, the attrition rate dropped in 2020 to 163, or about 1.9% and again rose to 478 in 2022 from 353 in 2021.
Although the teachers’ attrition rate has increased, the average Student-Teacher Ratio (STR) for public schools is 15 students per teacher while the STR for private schools is 14 students per teacher which is an improvement from last year as per the report. The STR for private primary schools is 12 students per teacher as compared to 14 students per teacher in public primary schools. In public schools, higher secondary schools have the highest STR (16) and primary schools the lowest STR (9). In private schools, higher secondary schools have the highest STR (15) and lower secondary schools the lowest (9).
The STR measures the number of students per teacher. This indicator is often used as a proxy indicator for measuring quality of education, due to the difficulty in constructing direct instruments to measure quality of education. In this context, lower STR indicates higher availability of teacher services to the students and vice versa.
Further, the report also shows the number of expatriate teachers has been decreasing while the number of national teachers has been increasing. As of 2022, the total number of expatriate teachers in both public and private schools stand at 112 compared to 10,472 Bhutanese teachers.
As per the report, the proportional distribution of expatriate teachers in different levels of schools in the country shows that the highest proportion of expatriate teachers is in higher secondary schools (67.0%) and the lowest in lower secondary schools (3.6%).
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu