The report commissioned by EI, “Getting Teacher Migration and Mobility Right,” outlined eight total strategies and recommendations:

  1. Improve data collection and make it publically available
  2. Protect migrant teachers’ rights and support their professional needs
  3. Expand opportunities for well-structured teacher exchanges and language programs
  4. Reduce reliance on international recruitment to fill shortages or spur development
  5. Involve educators and unions in crisis response
  6. Limit and regulate the role of international recruitment agencies
  7. Empower migrants through unions
  8. Create a harmonized policy framework

Improve data collection and make it publically available

More access to better data is critical to understanding teacher migration trends and their impact.  Government agencies and international organizations should collect and make detailed information available regarding the international teaching workforce, and more qualitative and quantitative research should be conducted to document trends and their impact. That research could

  • Broadly disseminate an instrument in order to analyse first-hand experiences of migrant teachers
  • Investigate the professional benefits of international exchange and the characteristics of effective exchange programmes
  • Examine the impact of outward migration of teachers in source countries and potential models to mitigate negative consequences
  • Review the implications of feminised teacher migration
  • Document the extent of de-skilling and brain waste related to teacher migration, as well as policies that might help to reduce it
  • Analyse the role of refugee teachers in crisis response and recovery efforts

Protect migrant teachers’ rights and support their professional needs

All teachers need support to adapt to a new educational environment, and migrant teachers are no exception. The success of any international teacher hiring depends heavily on cultural orientation and professional development. Recruited teachers should receive on-going support to ensure they are as effective as possible in the classroom.  

Equal treatment regardless of gender, race, nationality, or language is essential to any rights-based migration advocacy. Policies that create inequities between teachers should be eradicated.

For migrant teachers, credentialing challenges can present a significant hurdle to mobility, or reduce their earning potential in the destination country. Credential recognition policies must be consistent, coherent, and transparent. 

Expand opportunities for well-structured teacher exchanges and language programmes

Consistent public investment enables teacher exchange programs to thrive. However, fiscal austerity and a move to privatise educational services threaten such programmes. 

The most successful exchange programmes

  • Recruit highly qualified teachers
  • Provide the structure and time for professional growth
  • Maximise benefits to both sending and receiving countries 

Reduce reliance on international recruitment to fill shortages or spur development

Globally, there should be a reduction of the reliance on international recruitment to meet predictable staffing needs. International recruitment is neither a solution to routine staffing needs, nor to development. When necessary, international recruitment should be seen as part of a strategy to create lasting staffing solutions. To that end, teachers should not be in precarious work conditions, but should have a path to permanent status in their destination country. 

Involve educators and unions in crisis response

Forced migration requires the concerted action of national governments, relief agencies, donors and non-government organizations to ensure immediate access to basic needs. Even in the midst of existential concerns, education is critically important in helping to restore a sense of normalcy and hope.  Unions should partner with relief agencies and responders to develop effective education, which should include efforts to more effectively integrate refugee teachers into their assistance programmes.  Even under the most difficult circumstances, teachers maintain a strong professional identity, and can be an invaluable resource in recovery planning and response.

Conversely, the de-skilling that occurs when forced migrant teachers have to turn to work in other fields is a waste of the investment in their education. Greater efforts should be made to help teachers remain in the profession. 

Limit and regulate the role of international recruitment agencies

Many recognise the need to regulate the international teacher recruitment industry. EI and its affiliates will continue to push for more and better regulations at national and global level. Transparency, employer accountability, and a ban on fees to workers are essential components of meaningful regulation. Moreover, governments need to commit resources to enforcement and establish penalties for violations that are serious enough to deter abuse.

Empower migrants through unions

To steer international teacher migration trends in a positive direction, union engagement strategies must be multi-faceted and well -coordinated. Every individual union understands only one small piece of teacher migration. We must share information, insights, and strategies to address global causes and consequences responsibly and effectively. Meaningful partnerships require authentic reciprocal interest, sustained commitment and shared core values. 

Through building cross-border relationships and open channels of communication, unions will be better able to notify each other when there is a need to act, and ready to coordinate strategies. Workers must be represented by strong unions at home and in any country to which they chose to travel for work, with as seamless a transition as possible. The role of Education International in supporting this work is fundamental by:

  • Collecting evidence, information, and data from around the world to highlight best practices and expose injustice
  • Facilitating connections between unions in source and destination countries
  • Advocating for just migration and development policies through the UN, World Bank, other international institutions

Only through work at global level can unions coordinate an effective engagement around teacher migration.

Create a harmonized policy framework

Contemporary push and pull factors for teacher migration relate as much to education policy as they do to migration or labour policy. However, most countries in the world currently develop policies separately, often leading to disconnect and problems.  Therefore, a rights-based approach to migration calls for a coherent policy framework that aligns workers’ rights, migrant rights, and education quality. 

Education Policy

  • Well-rounded curriculum to prepare young people for citizenship in globalized world
  • End to the mania of over testing and high stakes
  • Full and equitable access to quality education
  • Meaningful investment in pre-service and in-service training and professional development for teachers
  • Teacher salaries and benefits on par with professionals who hold comparable qualifications in other fields
  • Safe and healthy school environments for teaching and learning
  • Fair system of recognition of credentials of teachers trained abroad

Migration Policy

  • Ending employer-driven temporary work programs that create precarious work
  • Regulation of recruitment agencies and practices
  • Full rights and access to justice for migrant teachers
  • Requirements to document a domestic shortage before recruiting from abroad
  • High standards for professional and cultural exchange programs (ideally reciprocal in nature)

Economic / Labour Policy

  • Freedom of association for public and private employees
  • Collective bargaining rights for public and private employees
  • Equal pay for equal work, regardless of country of origin
  • Meaningful investment in public education
  • Fair taxation structures to support public services
  • Effective jobs creation and workforce planning processes
  • End to restrictions on social spending by international financial institutions that require disinvestment in education and healthcare