No more teachers needed?

Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly -
Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly -

The message from the Education Minister on Thursday was unequivocal: no vacancies.

Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly explained that the Teaching Service Commission would no longer accept unsolicited applications for teaching jobs, but will invite applications when they are available.

The demand for teaching jobs in most subjects outstrips need, to the extent that the TSC and the ministry are swamped by paperwork.

From the other side of this situation, it's unfair and untenable to leave aspiring teachers waiting for years to be selected and then put them in a queue for school placement.

Education institutions agree there are subjects for which there is a surfeit of teachers – but for others, such as French, there is still demand.

So Dr Gadsby-Dolly advised teachers to "carefully consider that there is currently a dearth of vacancies in many areas of teaching." She advised aspiring educators to monitor advertisements for teaching staff to "guide possible areas of study and career development."

Meanwhile the Education Ministry should be monitoring areas of shortfall in its own education delivery, including especially the need for more teachers trained to educate and integrate special-needs children.

For many such children, the only real option is expensive private education. What happens if parents or caregivers can't afford that?

Should a child already operating at a mental or physical disadvantage be further limited in his or her capacity to learn and contribute to society? How will children with disabilities learn and socialise? How will their neurotypical and physically able peers learn to appreciate and accommodate them?

Does the Education Ministry mean the "No child left behind" credo to apply only to those children who can enter the school system?

That's definitely been the case not only for those with special needs but also for hundreds of refugee children who have been bluntly denied education opportunities in local schools.

Luckily that challenge has been taken up by the UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency, through an online coaching programme, Equal Place.

Both failings point to a careless reading of this country's responsibilities under the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1991.

The government also has a responsibility to adapt school curricula to a fast-changing workplace, but has done little beyond adopting postures of agreement that such change is necessary.

The education system continues to be driven by onerous and outdated exams that divide and dispirit thousands of students, with no practical change in evidence.

The teachers who will change that future should be in training or retraining now on the basis of further guidance and information than warnings from the ministry not to apply for any teaching jobs at all.

The Education Ministry's intervention in the future of its teachers must be more direct, clear and planned with an eye on the future than it is today.


"No more teachers needed?"

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