Guyanese in the diaspora are cautioning the Guyana government against proceeding with a risky industrial war that they are about to fight with teachers here over increase wages.
Their sentiments were widely shared on social media over the past few days and have intensified today, with many posting links to teachers vacancies in the United States, Canada, and England, among several other places.
One informal grouping in Miami shared a Facebook missive which provocatively stated that “while teachers in Guyana are battling with the government for an increase of their salary to a paltry minimum average of $100,000 (or US$480) per month, the US State of Florida is desperately searching for teachers, and is offering an equivalent salary of G$1.1 million (or just over US$5,000) per month to any Guyanese teacher who is willing to work in its public school system”.
Links posted to articles online that were posted by several of the commentators seems to solidly back up their claims of teachers shortages in Florida, including a fresh one in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.
In an article which appeared a few hours ago in that publication (see that article HERE), it quoted the Florida Education Association as saying that the state is suffering from a severe shortage of teachers, since most people are unwilling to teach for even just over US$5,000 per month.
The publication quoted officials revealing that two years ago, the State was short of 2,500 teachers, with last year numbers rising to 3,000, and now a staggering 4,000.
Even though the State has been constantly posting vacancies year-round, people are hardly applying for the job, while those who have retired are unwilling to come back.
Furthermore, Florida has one of the largest immigrant community of teachers, with at least 40% of the State teaching system made up of foreign nationals, including Guyanese.
There are a number of other US States facing the same problem, with many choosing to recruit teachers from outside of the US to fill these vacancies.
Similarly, in England, the UK Guardian says that the British Government needs over 50,000 secondary school teachers over the next 6 years at an average of around 8,500 new teachers per year (see that article HERE), while other publications highlighted a shortage of around 15,000 nursery level teachers and about 20,000 primary level teachers, all of which are urgently needed.
The UK pays a higher salary than Florida for even untrained teachers, and has a large number of foreigners working in its education system.
For Guyanese in the diaspora, the government must be mindful that (especially trained) teachers would not have much difficulty landing a teaching job in the UK, and to some extent in the US, since the migrant processes for teaching professionals takes less than two months for the UK, and just about 4 months for the US.
In their view, the State should come to a compromise, rather than creating the conditions that can trigger a brain drain of teaching professionals from the public education system.
Teachers in Guyana are scheduled to go on strike from August 27, for an indefinite period, which analysts say can provoke social instability, while creating a string of other unforeseen secondary problems.
However, the Guyana government has been holding its ground against the teachers’ request, while indicating that they cannot raise teachers wages by the percentages that they are asking.