As part of a 3-year project funded by EI and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, EI affiliates from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines met for a 3-day workshop in Kuala Lumpur (September 29th-October 1st) to discuss teacher migration and related social protection issues.

The workshop was an important occasion for delegates to share information and knowledge on their respective experience of teacher migration at national level. 

The Philippines is a major "labor exporting economy": an estimated one in seven Filipino works abroad. It is an interesting case to learn from, not only because of the volume of workers – among them, a significant number of teachers - it sends abroad, but also considering the extensive bureaucratic infrastructure that the government has built to facilitate and regulate the export of workers. Indeed, it is recognised as one of the most developed system of recruiter licensing and monitoring in the world. During the workshop, the Filipino affiliates presented the outcomes of a research that they conducted in 2013. The study revealed that a number of teachers resigning from the profession move abroad to work in a different sector (especially in the domestic and care sectors), raising concern about the deskilling of migrant teachers. The unions also learnt about a recent and worrying trend of teachers moving to Indonesia and Gulf States to teach English. They informed participants that a follow-up study focusing on five regions is planned to start soon to collect more data on teacher emigration.

Malaysia is a major immigration country, not only in Asia, but also globally. Most of the foreign teachers working in Malaysia at the moment are expatiates, teaching in private colleges and international schools. Little is known concerning the import of foreign teachers who may be working in different sectors. While accurate data on teacher migration is not available in Indonesia, it is the first country of origin of foreigners working in Malaysia, and one of the most represented in the domestic sector.

A key objective of the workshop was to provide affiliates with knowledge and resources to advocate for migrants’ rights, especially in relation to social protection issues, and promote the ILO decent work agenda at national and regional levels (ASEAN). The Philippines is the only country which has ratified both ILO Conventions 97 (Migration for Employment, 1949) and 143 (Migrant Workers, 1975) while Malaysia has only ratified the first one. The three countries are also at different stages of discussion and implementation of social protection frameworks for migrant workers.

A follow-up meeting will be convened in 2016 in Manila, Philippines, in which affiliates will share the outcomes of country-level desk and field research on teacher migration and social protection issues. The collected evidence will be used in a second phase of the project to lobby governments at national and regional levels, to extend social security coverage to the migrant workforce and more broadly, to adopt and enforce international labour standards in order to guarantee migrant workers’ fundamental rights.