Education sector grapples with brain drain

Source: Education sector grapples with brain drain | Herald (Opinion)

Education sector grapples with brain drain

The migration of some teachers from Zimbabwe has impacted negatively on the quality of education provided at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.  The outflow of teachers from the country has put a strain on the education sector, which is forced to function with emaciated staff.

The scale of emigration has led a United Nations Development Programme-funded research team to conclude that education remains one of the sectors hardest hit by the labour out-migration.

In Sweden, China and Mozambique, Zimbabweans are employed as English Language teachers, which is largely regarded as a rewarding profession as compared to the remuneration received at home.

South Africa is one of the countries to which a lot of Zimbabweans have migrated in search of greener pastures.

Prior to 2008, a few Zimbabwean teachers were employed in the civil service of South Africa, but more migrated to that country as economic challenges mounted.

Some teachers were involved in the informal sector to make ends meet, for example, through shoe-making and vending, which forced many of them to move to other countries.

This left a huge gap in the education sector as many trained and qualified teachers opted to make use of their knowledge elsewhere.

A lot of resources are going to waste as lots of money has been used in the training of teachers, who go on to benefit other countries in the SADC region and abroad.

With the lure of better salaries, Zimbabwean graduates do not stay and develop their country, but rather help expand other countries both economically and socially.

Sciences and Mathematics teachers have excelled in educating pupils from other countries while our own do not acquire such expertise.

A Zimbabwean teacher, Mishael Matonhodze, recently won South Africa’s top teaching prize for excellence in Mathematics and Science, which is evident of the country’s prowess in the education sector and its high literacy levels.

South African pass rates have been  rising over the years from 2008, with the pass rate for last year being 78,2 percent, because of Zimbabwean teachers.

The 2008 South African change in policy to regularise the stay of foreign teachers also helped to address the skills gap in the education sector with the availability of foreign labour.

A research done by the International Migration Programme, in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on skilled labour migration in South and Southern Africa found that neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region have served a replenishing role in terms of providing skilled labour to South Africa

According to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) 2013, Zimbabwean teachers constitute the largest group of migrant teachers in South Africa.

Teacher migration impacts negatively on the quality of education on all levels in the country, with the most qualified teachers leaving.

From 2001 to 2003, Zimbabwe’s education sector lost an estimated 45 percent of its teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to other countries, thus, the country has proven to be a remarkable teacher labour- exporter.