353 teachers left in 2021
2022 has seen the highest number of teachers ever leaving with 868 of them leaving, which is more than double than 2021.
Of the 868 teachers who left there were 434 voluntary resignations by regular teachers including 24 principals and vice principals.
323 teachers were contract teachers whose contracts were completed, 50 were on superannuation and 37 were either terminations or deaths.
The 434 voluntary resignation by regular teachers in 2022 is the highest ever as in 2021 there were 224 voluntary resignations by regular teachers.
It is the loss of these regular teachers that will hurt the most as while some of them are young, there will be many who are experienced and also experts in their subjects.
The concern is that many of these teachers are also from the STEM subjects.
The Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said that such numbers leaving will immediately impact the assessment and after that it will impact the academic year due to the experienced teachers leaving.
The worry of the Minister is that more teachers could end up leaving by January 2023.
Lyonpo said that for 2023 they can somehow manage in terms of the numbers of teachers as the 323 contracts teachers will be recruited again after an assessment, but he is not sure how many want to come back and work yet.
He also said that the ministry has recruited 467 new teachers through the Bhutan Civil Service Exams.
Lyonpo said if the current numbers of teachers leaving keep up in 2023 then for the 2024 academic year the ministry may recruit expatriate teachers especially in STEM subjects.
Lyonpo said that international recruitment is plan B but if the current trend continues and local teachers are not available, as then there is no choice but to go for international recruitment. The minister said that the ministry cannot hire untrained teachers for key posts.
Bhutan’s education journey saw a transition from a largely expatriate teaching staff to a local one, but if the Australia rush continues at this rate then the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) will be forced to fill teaching gaps in technical subjects with expatriate teachers.
The MoESD has not conducted studies on why such large numbers of teachers are leaving, but Lyonpo said he had a talk with some of the teachers who are leaving.
Lyonpo said the teachers are saying they are leaving as Australia is giving them an opportunity to pursue further studies, get exposure, get a chance to work there for good money, give their kids a good education and explore further opportunities there.
Lyonpo said the teachers he talked to made it clear to him that it is not because of the civil service reforms as they are not negatively impacted by it.
No teacher was managed out in the managing out process.
The minister said that some teachers in fact said they felt guilty about leaving as the government had increased their pay and given them a lot of pride about being teachers.
In 2022 there are 9,860 teachers and if one deducts the 868 who left then the total may come to around 9,000 teachers left in the system.
In the past reasons given by teachers for leaving have been heavy workload, lack of training opportunities or professional development, poor leadership, work conditions and inability to advance in their careers.