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Friday, 11 July 2008

Rural teacher shortage...

Education Permanent Secretary Lillian Kapulu is threatening to blacklist newly-recruited teachers who refuse to take up rural appointments. This comes after her announcement that 600 vacancies were not taken up in rural areas last year.

A baffling approach to resolving the problem of teacher shortage in rural areas. Surely a more rational approach is to first ask why teachers don't want to work in rural areas and then consider the incentives that are needed to make them go there. Those incentives have to bear in mind that we want teachers to be in places that they are happy to do either for monetary reasons or non-monetary reasons (e.g. place attachment).

Its quite obvious that teaching in rural areas is unattractive due to lack of services. Rural teachers therefore feel that their wages do not compensate for the loss in "quality of life" (the flipside of course is their real wages may be better because of low inflation). What Lillian should be thinking about is how best to compensate them for that financially. Introducing penalties may seem to solve the problem in the short term (though she'll still end up with less committed rural teachers), but in the long term it will simply make teaching less attractive to the best people with other employment alternatives.

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