‘Teacher exodus threatens progress’ – Summit

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Delegates at the National Education Summit. Picture: MOE

Teacher attrition is one of the biggest disrupters of transformation efforts in Fiji’s education sector.

Education Ministry permanent secretary Selina Kuruleca said this could seriously impact the success and sustainability of the country.

According to the FESA (Fiji Education Staff Appointment) 2023 results, about 610 teachers have left the profession so far this year.

In 2022, about 320 teachers resigned. Of the resignations from 2018 to 2023, 51 per cent were secondary school teachers, 40 per cent were primary school teachers and 8 per cent in early childhood education.

Ms Kuruleca said teacher attrition was the most serious threat and a challenge to the sustainability of educational progress in Fiji.

“A large majority are in the form of resignations,” she said.

“These make up 61 per cent of the total figures that the system lost over the past five years and these include the loss of teachers to the “no jab, no job” rule.

“We’re losing teachers every month. The rate of loss of teachers is quite high.

“Some months it is 67, some months it is 87 and the first half of this year alone it was over 440, from January to June.”

Ms Kuruleca said the majority of the teachers were leaving for overseas employment.

“We have had a few conversations with some of the teachers who are leaving primary schools and they are head teachers, primary school teachers, secondary school teachers with 15 and 20 years of experience leaving the civil service.

“We ask them why they’re leaving and it is because they’re going to be a butcher in some country, in some state in Australia or New Zealand.

“Why? Because the pay is $40 an hour.”

Ms Kuruleca said the challenge was on the Government and relevant stakeholders to find solutions to this ongoing problem.

“How can we make teaching attractive? How can we attract good candidates to be teachers? How can we talk with our Vuvale partners? Do we need to consider the ways of looking at our PALM Scheme?

“Do we need to do a security risk assessment if everyone is leaving? What are we going to do? How do we attract? How do we train? How do we retain our teachers?”