John is a Cuban teacher who moved to Canada in 1997 and faced difficulty finding work

This content comes from our newly released interactive youth version of the 2019 GEM Report.

teacher johnThe reluctance of some countries to recognize teacher qualifications across borders is one of the most important challenges for migrant teachers.

Becoming a teacher in a foreign country is really challenging. I had two or three interviews where I said that I was not a Canadian citizen yet, and kind of never got a call again. Some universities’ requirements are very strict for foreign teachers. Some would only grant me a quarter of a Canadian credit for every Cuban credit. Some thought that a teacher with an accent from a small Caribbean country did not have what it takes or have much to offer.

We, foreign teachers, bring our culture, different teaching perspectives, experiences and values from our old country to Canada with the end goal of helping our students become lifelong learners.’

Teacher migration can create shortages in the countries they leave. Caribbean countries have experienced high teacher emigration in recent decades, not least because of active recruitment efforts in the United Kingdom and the United States. Facing shortages in public schools in the early 2000s, the New York City Education Board increased international recruitment, attracting hundreds of teachers from the Caribbean. For small island states, even small numbers of emigrating teachers can create significant shortages.

brain drain

Commonwealth ministers of education adopted a Commonwealth Teacher Recruitment Protocol in 2004 to respond to small Caribbean states’ concerns that they were losing their teaching workforce. However, the protocol is non-binding and so does not prevent individual teachers from migrating.

Recommendation: Harness the potential of teacher migrants

Migrants, including teachers, have skills that can help transform not only their and their families’ lives but also both host and home economies and societies, whether they return or support from a distance. Countries need to follow up on the new commitments they made in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to improve the recognition of migrants’ qualifications. Systems to recognize people’s previous academic qualifications and professional skills should be made simpler, cheaper and more transparent and flexible. Agencies working on this should harmonize procedures at national, regional and global levels, working with governments and international organizations.

interactive youth report coverPlease download and share the youth report

Youth can use it to inform their campaigns and advocacy, while the stories can teach about the education status and challenges of your peers around the globe.

Teachers can use it as a classroom aid/pedagogical tool to discuss key issues on migration and displacement around the world, taking each story in turn, discussing the context, the implications, and the solutions.

Actions you can take to support the Youth report recommendations include:

  1. Tweet the stories and recommendations in the Report using the hashtag #EducationOnTheMove
  2. Find more stories and associated calls for change on the campaign homepage
  3. Share your own story of what it’s like accessing education when on the move via the campaign homepage and help us raise awareness of the issues needing attention
  4. Work up an advocacy campaign around one of the recommendations, sharing the key facts, stats and calls for change with youth networks, the media and at events.

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