Former teacher at Elmore Stoutt High School Sharie DeCastro has claimed that teachers in the territory are leaving public schools now more than ever, adding that the exodus is for plausible reasons including low salaries, lack of consultation regarding curriculum, and reluctance to fill permanent teaching posts.
She made the comments on social media while responding to a BVI News Online article in which Minister of Education Myron Walwyn lamented that students have been shunning the teaching profession; hence resulting in a shortage of qualified teachers.
“I dare say teachers are now shunning teaching too at an all-time high,” DeCastro said.
“A rising number of teachers are resigning from teaching and taking up other careers. Honestly, I cannot say that I blame them.”
DeCastro, in the meantime, elaborated on the issue of inadequate compensation, adding that two politicians recently received a pay hike for taking on additional work, but such courtesy has not been extended to teachers.
“Teachers are being given additional responsibilities daily, but are not given compensation for it. Didn’t our Junior Ministers just get a raise on that same premise? Don’t teachers want to build a family, build a home, and send their children to college too? I long to see the day when teachers are respected and revered,” DeCastro reasoned.
“Why is it that qualified teachers are being paid at the Associate Degree level when they have Bachelor’s degrees, and likewise at the Bachelor’s degree level if they have Master’s degrees? Why is it that teaching is the profession where you have to hear ‘it shouldn’t be about the money but the children?”
DeCastro, who is also a tutor and member of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party, expressed dissatisfaction with the exclusion of teachers from crucial decision-making processes.
“Why is it that qualified teachers are not given the opportunity to weigh in on curriculum and policy changes that are being instituted for them to implement?” she asked.
DeCastro, in the meantime, raised concern that a number of qualified teachers are usually left in limbo regarding appointment to permanent posts.
“There are too many qualified teachers left in limbo every September waiting for an appointment letter to show an extension. There are too many qualified teachers who are told that there is a waiting list to become permanent and pensionable, because there are teachers waiting for up to 5+ years since there are not enough positions allocated for in the budget.”
“How is it that government is hiring more teachers than what positions the budget allows, yet refuse to increase the amount of positions allocated in the budget so that teachers can have job security?” DeCastro further asked.
Those and other issues affecting qualified teachers, the educator said, are not encouraging for students who may want to join the teaching profession.
She explained: “If students are shunning teaching, I propose that it may be because they spend five days a week from 9-3pm seeing first hand exactly what teachers endure: lack of resources, insufficient teachers, lack of a substitute system, and lack of a school-wide behavioral support system – to name a few. Can we expect differently if students are blatantly asking teachers, ‘Why are you here? We hear teachers don’t make money?”
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