Don’t blame the “foreign” teachers but let us do more to incentivize locals
There are many professions that are overlooked particularly the educators. The teaching profession is not only overlooked but is underpaid especially. In 1986, when I started college, I double major in education and accounting as I was either going to be an accountant or an accounting teacher. After the first year of college, I decided to drop education and replace it with business management because after months of careful consideration, I concluded that the salary as a teacher in the Turks and Caicos would be too small even though I loved teaching.
I know there are many other people who want to be educators and are perhaps thinking the same thing I thought in 1986. As a result there is a shortage of local teachers and therefore we have to recruit teachers from overseas.
Teaching is a noble profession and unlike other professions, everybody needs a teacher. The doctors need a teacher, the lawyers need a teacher, the accountants need a teacher, the plumbers need a teacher and the list goes on and on but yet we look down on teaching as a profession.
Don’t blame the “foreign” teachers
From the time I was a little child, we had “foreign teachers” particularly at the secondary level. As I can recalled, most if not all of my teachers at the elementary level were locals. However, that has changed now. In fact, I believed back then, the majority of scholarships offered were for teaching and the Turks and Caicos private sector was virtually non-existence. Nowadays, there are few local teachers at the elementary, secondary and tertiary levels therefore our education system will consist of mainly non local teachers.
We cannot and should not blame the “foreign teachers.” Jobs are advertised and have to be occupied and if there is insufficient locals then we have to get teachers from the outside. Let us stop blaming the teachers for occupying these posts. How do you think they feel? They have feelings just like you and I.
We have to accept the fact that unless we do something to attract more locals to the teaching profession, we will continue to have “foreign” teachers. Don’t you want your children to be educated? Well in order for them to be educated, they need to be taught and in order for them to be taught, they need to have teachers.
Incentivize the locals
I believe there are many locals who want to be teachers but they feel disenfranchised. I know there are locals who were teachers and left the profession to secure better paying jobs. Due to the fact that most of our teachers are not from here, more than likely they will not stay here in TCI especially since there is also a demand for teachers in Canada and the USA. In order to mitigate this risk, we need to encourage more locals in the profession.
This can be done by offering more scholarships for the teaching profession. In addition, we need to review the compensation that teachers are getting paid. My understanding is that the non-locals are given a gratuity at the end of their contract while the locals are not given any gratuity.
To resolve this issue, I think we should increase the salaries for teachers. I know a review was done a couple of years ago but if we are serious about attracting locals to the profession, then the salaries need to be increased.
Whether we like it or not, the public and private sector offer incentives to non-locals such as gratuity to attract them to their organization. If we cannot increase the salaries for local teachers then maybe we need to review the local terms and offer the teachers a contract with gratuity. I challenge those local teachers to apply for the teaching positions that are advertised. Don’t expect people to call you because you know you are a teacher. If you want something, you have to apply for it.
In the meantime, let us be thankful for our teachers for they are the ones that are imparting knowledge in our children’s lives. I have always had an appreciation for teachers but I respect them more during the lockdown when we as parents were more involved than usual with our children’s school work.