Thursday 17 October 2019

Flow of Irish teachers to Middle East continuing, INTO leader warns

Dubai has proven a popular destination with teachers
Dubai has proven a popular destination with teachers
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The flow of Irish teachers to the Middle East is continuing, the leader of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) John Boyle has warned.

He spoke as Education Minister Joe McHugh travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet emigrant teachers and tease out any barriers they see to returning home.

Mr McHugh is hosting two “town hall” meetings, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,  and ahead of his visit more than 500 teachers had registered to attend

Mr Boyle called for urgent action on ending pay inequality, particularly for those who started work in Ireland in 2011-14, more promotional opportunities and the retention of jobs in rural schools as incentives.

“I feel that he needs to act on these priorities pretty quickly, there is a big cohort of teachers out there, and there is a large number considering going out, and I would like to keep them at home” said Mr Boyle.

The INTO general secretary said while much progress had been made on  pay equality  many of teachers who went abroad were  in the 2011-14 cohort and were still facing heavy losses over the lifetime of their career if pay inequality  was not ended. “It  is “a big stumbling block”, he said

Mr Boyle said while teachers who entered the profession from 2015 onwards had pay equality “interestingly, they are not all staying either”.

He added: “We have done our best to reach out to people abroad on social media to make them aware that we have had made significant progress, but we haven’t been able to guarantee that they will have pay equality.”

He said lack of promotional opportunities – which have not been fully restored since the cuts era, was also an issue. “Our teachers are hugely valued in the Middle East and are quickly promoted, but if they come back they haven’t a hope of promotion” he said.

And the INTO general secretary also called for movement on class sizes, which would allow for the retention of posts in rural Ireland as the primary school population falls. He said many teachers wanted to go back to their roots.

“The minister needs to give them some assurances that when he gets to his first Budget that he can address these issues,” he said.

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