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EDITIONS
Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 13:13 GMT
Third World schools 'sucked dry'
Teacher in classroom in Jamaica
Caribbean teachers are in demand in Britain

Supply agencies and schools which "rob" teachers from developing countries should be forced to pay a levy which would be put back into the education system of those countries, a union says.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) said it deplored the need to employ teachers from countries which could ill afford to lose their expertise, to fill an estimated 7,000 vacancies in Britain.


To raid countries in desperate need of qualified teachers ... is the worst kind of chauvinism

ATL leader Peter Smith
Some delegates at the ATL's annual conference in Cardiff said conditions in English schools were so bad that teachers brought in from overseas often left again within weeks.

But the main complaint - set out by Michael Catty from Hertfordshire - was that English-speaking countries, particularly in the Third World, were being "sucked dry".

"We are robbing these countries of their future and giving them nothing in return," he said.

Mr Catty said the UK must deal fairly with the countries from which it took teachers, by paying them some sort of recompense.

"Only when our schools are sated will their countries get the teachers they need," said Phillip Brookes from Nottinghamshire.

David Forbes from Hertfordshire told delegates the poaching of teachers from developing countries was "short-sighted, exploitative and selfish".

'No cure for shortages'

The ATL's general secretary, Peter Smith, said bringing in teachers from abroad was no way to solve teacher shortages in the UK.

"To raid countries in desperate need of qualified teachers - like South Africa and the Caribbean - is the worst kind of chauvinism," said Mr Smith.

"It is irresponsible in terms of failing to face up to the shortage problem we have in this country, by selfish cosmetic cures, by freighting in teachers from countries which badly need them."

ATL members also expressed concern about the difficulties many overseas teachers faced when they arrived here.

Third World schools

Robin Bevan from Essex said they were often so shocked by what went on in classrooms here that they left, often mid-way through term, causing further disruption to pupils' education.

"They leave because when they enter school, a combination of behaviour and working conditions are not what they expected and not what they are used to.

"Respect for teachers in an English secondary school has to be earned - you don't just get it by being a teacher.

"They are used to automatic respect for teachers and good discipline," said Mr Bevan.

Colin Newcombe from Cheshire said he wondered why any teacher from abroad would want to teach in the UK.

"How long are they going to stay here when they find out they are not in Great Britain, nor Cool Britannia, but have fetched up in Third World Britain with a banana monarchy whose cash crop is nostalgia for a vanished past - Europe's off-shore basket case?

"If you had a choice, would you stay?" he asked delegates.

See also:

15 Mar 02 | UK Education
15 Mar 02 | UK Education
19 Jan 01 | UK Education
07 Aug 01 | UK Education
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