A worrying number of skilled South African teachers are leaving the country for careers in Abu Dhabi, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
A study conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal master’s student Tatum Niemack found that local teachers were leaving due to financial, social, religious, and political reasons.
Many local teachers are lured away by the higher salaries in the United Arab Emirates, the report stated.
Teachers in Abu Dhabi can reportedly earn between R50,000 and R78,000 per month, five-times more than they can earn in South Africa.
South African Council of Educators (Sace) spokesperson Thembinkosi Ndhlovu said the trend was worrying for local skills development.
“This has implications for the brain drain and is leaving the country in short supply of valuable experience and good teachers,” Ndhlovu said.
“Teachers, especially experienced ones, leaving the profession is not good for the country as invested knowledge and skills are needed.”
Cape Town teacher-placement agency SA-Recruitment stated that close to 80 teachers had been recruited through the agency for Abu Dhabi posts in the past two years.
Benefits of Abu Dhabi
Local teachers who are recruited to positions in Abu Dhabi are offered top-notch salaries in addition to a number of benefits.
Teachers are given housing, medical insurance, and flight allowances for them and their family.
Additionally, a month’s salary is offered as a bonus for every year they work there and is paid out at the end of their contract.
SA-Recruitment stated that most teachers who apply for placement through the agency request to work in Abu Dhabi specifically, with a major reason being the much higher tax-free salaries.
The National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel told the Sunday Times that local teachers can easily find employment abroad.
“We don’t believe the government sees this as a problem,” Manuel said.
“There have been no attempts in any province to address the exit. No coherent strategy exists.”
A recent assessment by the International Schools Database found that South Africa still offers some of the most affordable international education facilities in the world.
Abu Dhabi’s average price of education is still relatively affordable compared to other international facilities, but is more expensive than equivalent facilities in Cape Town.
Earlier this year, the department of education also announced that it plans to implement a new history curriculum in South African schools which may become compulsory.
The new history curriculum will be centered around the history of African civilisations and could be phased in over the next seven years.