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Teacher migration slows

Fewer Guyanese teachers are migrating to take up lucrative job offers because recruiters are no longer targeting the South American nation but are instead giving priority to their nationals, officials said Monday.

“There is not a grave problem. It is not a free flow like before,” President of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Colin Bynoe told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

Bynoe attributed the slow down in the exodus of teachers partly to countries like The Bahamas and St. Lucia recruiting their own nationals who are now keener in taking up teaching jobs compared to recent years.

The GTU boss further explained that the United States and Canada are no longer preferred destinations for Guyanese teachers because of competition –mainly in New York- by Nigerians and only temporary teaching jobs being available in Canada. In the case of Canada, he said Guyanese now have to opt to take lower level teaching positions in pre-school and kindergarten in the hope of acquiring the required credentials to secure permanent jobs. The union executive said that in some cases, other Guyanese professionals go to these countries and switch to teaching as a means of survival.

“The whole thing now is tricky and it’s all about taking chances,” said Bynoe, adding that Guyanese teachers now find themselves taking one to three year contracts at the end of which they have to leave the country.

The GTU President, however, forecast that a new wave of teachers could leave Guyana if recruiters decide to target that category of trained professionals.

He said many Guyanese teachers have opted to remain here to take advantage of a number of benefits. “There are some more benefits and many are weighing it against going and getting nothing,” he said.  Trained Guyanese teachers at certain levels are entitled to duty free concessions on vehicles and housing lands.

Chief Education Officer Olato Sam shrugged off suggestions that teacher migration was still a major problem facing Guyana.

“It hasn’t been as bad as before. In fact, I think it hasn’t been a major concern of ours,” he said, adding that that a large number of persons have been applying to fill teaching vacancies.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand added that unlike previous years, there was a significant surplus of teachers. “We believe that there is a strong correlation between trained teachers and children doing well,” she told a recent news conference.

No figures were available to compare the impact of migration over the last 10 years.