Winners and Losers in the Mobility of Teachers in the Pacific Region: Issues and Policy Debates
Robyn R. Iredale, Carmen Voigt-Graf and Siew-Ean Khoo
Read this article [PDF, 1.4 MB]
The focus of much high skilled migration research has tended to be on health and IT professionals. This chapter addresses the mobility of school teachers in a geographic region that has received little attention, the Pacific. Unlike the Caribbean Islands and South Africa, the Pacific has not been the focus of much research into the demographic, economic and geographic factors impacting mobility, nor into the social, economic and demographic consequences of mobility.
Given the teacher shortages that are occurring in many industrialised countries on the Pacific Rim, (including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US) and the tailoring of immigration and long term visitor policies to attract highly skilled workers in areas of shortage, the Pacific could be affected. The article demonstrates that of three countries studied as part of a comparative project, only Fiji has been losing teachers to an extent that has been harmful to the country's education system. Most mobility has been related to political events but, nevertheless, the negative consequences are a matter for concern. Australia has benefited from the immigration of highly skilled Fijian teachers and its aid policies could be used as one way of addressing the loss of skilled human resources from Fiji. This could alleviate some of the tension and go some way towards meeting the demands for compensation. Many of the debates surrounding skilled migration and brain drain are investigated in relation to Fiji where political instability makes this an even more interesting case to examine.
On the other hand, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu experience low levels of international teacher emigration and this situation will remain as long as many of their teachers continue to be trained to levels that are not acceptable in the labour markets of industrialised countries. This has mainly been a matter of a shortage of resources rather than a deliberate policy of 'under-training'. If an upgrading of training does occur, however, the situation could change. This introduces a dilemma for these countries as they strive to upgrade qualifications and skills, as per the Millennium Development Goals, but seek to retain their own teachers.
Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Iredale, R. R., Voigt-Graf, C. and Khoo, S.-E. Winners and Losers in the Mobility of Teachers in the Pacific Region: Issues and Policy Debates. Diversities. 2012, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 77-98, UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595.
About the authors:
R.R. Iredale (BA Hons, Dip Ed., MA, PhD) is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute at the Australian National University. She has undertaken a wide range of projects on labour migration (especially skilled migration), skills recognition, women migrants, human rights, refugees and related issues. She has experience in Asia and the Pacific, in particular, and has undertaken a range of projects for international and national agencies.
C. Voigt-Graf obtained a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Sydney, researching the Indian diaspora in Fiji and Australia. Following a postdoctoral fellowship with the Australian Centre for Population Research at the Australian National University, she took up a lecturing position at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji. During six years in Fiji, her research focused on migration and development issues in the Pacific Island region. She also worked as a consultant for various organisations on the issues of migration, labour markets and economic development. After relocating to Jerusalem in 2010, she has continued her consultancy work on the Pacific and is an adjunct fellow at the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute at the Australian National University. Carmen Voigt-Graf has published numerous book chapters and journal articles.
Siew-Ean Khoo is Senior Fellow in the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on Australia's population and demography, particularly in relation to international migration to Australia and its demographic implications. Recent publications have included studies of skilled temporary migration to Australia, settlement outcomes of immigrants and their children, and Australia's changing ethnic demography.Back to top