Retaining than finding replacements

From 2016 till 2021, as many as 1,374 teachers in government schools have left the teaching profession.

It’s surprising that such a thing is continuing despite the government having made teaching as one of the highest paid professions in the country in 2019. This was considering the growing attrition rate of teachers and to attract the best and the brightest into the profession.

But considering the exodus of educationists from this profession, it is apparent that there is something wrong somewhere and an increasing number of teachers are opting to find a way out from this profession. While some have left for greener pastures, it seems some are impatiently waiting for that golden opportunity to bid adieu.

Further, according to the Annual Education Statistics 2020, the education ministry lost 163 teachers between June 2019 to July 2020, and of the total, 112 teachers had voluntarily resigned due to personal reasons. Going by the above numbers, on average 10 teachers voluntarily resigned every month during the above time period.

Meanwhile, a few teachers attribute the heavy workload, having to participate in all co-curricular activities, fewer holidays and the intricate education systems such as the Bhutan Professional Standards for Teachers and the Individual Work Plan as factors contributing to high attrition rate among teachers.

Seriously, we need to find solutions to avert this exodus. While reasons could vary and could be many behind teachers leaving this profession, this is obviously not a positive development. Educationists play a crucial role in shaping the future of the youth and thus the future of the nation.

This also becomes a cause for concern in the wake of a deluge of flak on the quality of education in the country. Perhaps, it’s not the first time we are hearing about the dearth of teachers, the appointment of contract based teachers, and the deteriorating quality of education in the country.

And while we have also been told that there is no dearth of teachers per se and education reports identify low academic and professional standards for entry into the teaching profession as major constraints in the current system, it’s time we right the wrongs in the system. How long will we continue to find a replacement to fill the vacuum left by those who are leaving or are about to leave?

The departure also means the departure of skills, knowledge and experience. These are the people who know the education system inside out. The education ministry has an important responsibility to come up with interventions to retain the seasoned teachers.

While attracting the brightest candidates into the profession is important, it must also retain the ones, who are already there today and possibly in a lookout for an exit passage. Our focus should be on retaining the ones through appropriate incentives rather than finding replacements.