Thu | Oct 1, 2020

Classroom raid - UK-based firm heading to Jamaica in search of already critically short science teachers

Published:Friday | January 11, 2019 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris

Already faced with a shortage of science teachers, the local education system could be in further trouble as a United Kingdom-based education recruitment agency is planning another raid on Jamaica.

Hourglass Education is heading back to Jamaica next month, looking for science teachers and offering them the opportunity to live and work in England, where those who teach the sciences are in short supply.

According to a message being circulated by co-founder of Hourglass Education Geoff Brown, science teachers are "urgently required" to email the organisation so that they can secure an interview with the agency, which will be in the island in early February.

"We are already interviewing more than 80 secondary-trained teachers but also need science teachers for our face-to-face interviews," he said.

Jamaica is currently struggling to attract and retain teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, plus teachers of geography.

In a bid to bolster the number of teachers of these subjects in the island, the Ministry of Education awarded 440 scholarships valued at $330 million to tertiary students under the Maths, Science and Technical and Vocational Education and Training initiative for the 2017-2018 academic year. The recipients have been bonded for five years.

But managing director of Hourglass Education Louise Brown is not daunted as her team heads to Jamaica. She noted that teachers are leaving the classroom in the UK for varying reasons.

"Unfortunately, it's a global shortage of teachers, and so lots of countries are going to many other countries in order to attract teachers to their schools [and] to their country to teach science," Brown told The Sunday Gleaner during a telephone interview last Friday.




Brown pointed to other worrying trends as it relates to the teaching profession.

"This year, one of the big shortages that we have had, which we have never had before, is geography teachers. So it has been difficult for us to find geography teachers," said Brown as she confirmed that the UK is facing a similar problem to Jamaica.

Brown's organisation has been recruiting teachers to the UK for more than 20 years, and she believes that the experience to work in another country is something educators in Jamaica should consider exploring. She said that they have recruited several teachers from Jamaica over the years.

"Some of them stayed for quite a long time, and some of them went back to Jamaica with the added experience that they have had in the UK schools," said Brown.

"The schools have to sponsor the teachers to come over here, so every teacher that we bring over here has a guaranteed job for the duration of their visa," added Brown.

She said that prospective recruits would need to have their teaching qualifications from a qualifying university and must be prepared to cover the cost associated with their relocation to the UK.

This means that they would need to have money to purchase their plane ticket, their visa, and to pay for accommodation.

"It's a very big deal, uprooting yourself from being in Jamaica and coming over to teach in the UK. People will have to be prepared for a lack of sunshine, which I'm sure you can understand is a very big deal," said Brown.

"We have to make sure that the people who are coming over have the drive and determination to come over and relocate to another country for a year or two years or however long it is that they want to work over here," she added.

While salary is determined by several factors, including years of experience, Brown noted that a teacher in the UK could expect to get anywhere from between £25,000 to £35,000 (J$4.1 million to J$5.8 million) annually.