My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why JA$100,000 won't Stop Mathematics and Science Teachers as Braindrain will accelerate

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why JA$100,000 won't Stop Mathematics and Science Teachers as Braindrain will accelerate

Looks like the Ministry of Education will be integrating the idea of salary differentials. If you're a mathematics and Science nerd like me, you'll realize what I just did in that first sentence.

The Ministry of Education is considering the idea of paying different teachers different salaries as noted in the article “Gov't Mulls Offering Better Salaries To Maths And Science Teachers To Keep Them”, published Thursday December 17, 2015, by Jovan Johnson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The idea is to counter the poaching of Mathematics and Science teachers from the Education system by Engineering firms, both locally as well as Internationally (read USA and Canada!) resulting in a brain drain of talent as explained in my blog article entitled “Why JA$100,000 Salaries needed to STEM Mathematics and Science Teacher shortage in Jamaica”. 

So why is that exactly?

Mathematics and Science Teacher Flight – JTA President says Math and Sciences Teacher not special

For a Mathematics and Science teacher getting JA$35,000 per month, getting double the same salary or even being paid the same but in US$ per month working abroad is a temptation many find hard to resist.

The loss of Mathematics and Science teachers is resulting in CXC and CAPE students not having trained and experienced teachers to teach them the subject adequately, resulting a gradually worsening performance ion these exams. Mathematics and Science teachers are not adequately prepared or even ready to deal with these students, many of whom have learning problems and are uninterested in the Sciences, their attention focused elsewhere.

This reduces the number students that are able to matriculate into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at the UWI and UTECH as well as replenish the pool of Mathematics and Science teachers at the Teachers Colleges to teach the next generation of students.

Engineering firms pay double what a Mathematics and Science teachers usually makes for the knowledge they possess. They then give them upgraded training and the tools to do the work that UTECH and UWI Engineers would only do for higher salaries above JA$100,000 per month.

Strangely enough, the JTA (Jamaica Teachers' Association) President, Norman Allen is opposed to this proposal as noted in the article “JTA Against Paying Science And Maths Teachers More Than Other Educators”, published Thursday December 17, 2015, by Jovan Johnson, The Jamaica Gleaner.

He claims that the statements of the Minister of Education are merely a reaction that does not account for the demand in other teaching disciplines by other countries. So is he right?

Jamaican Brain drain to Foreign countries – We’re losing English, as Robotics and Engineering graduates

In a way he might be.

Albeit a Teaching Degree in Mathematics and the Sciences makes you just as employable as an Engineer but at lower salaries locally, the same isn't true abroad.

American companies abroad are more interested in you working at their standard in Engineering. They are thus more likely to retrain you with their specialized systems, assuming that they even recognize your Teaching Degree in the first place.

You'll have better luck getting through on the US Farm work program by applying for a USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) H-2A and H-2B VISA come Monday January 18, 2016 as explained in my blog article entitled my blog article entitled “How Jamaicans can apply for H-2A and H-2B VISA to work in the US of A”.

Then there is getting the US Visa!

Aside from the JA$20,000 you'll need for the US VISA Application, US legislators are also considering doing background checks into their activity on the Internet, mostly Social Media and websites as noted in the article  “Snooping On Social Media Proposed As Part Of US Visa Background Checks”, published Wednesday December 16, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner.

So it's actually getting harder and harder to go abroad.

Additionally, as the JTA President, Norman Allen, there is also a demand for other Teaching skills.

One subject that’s in demand is English.

Teaching English to Japanese children via the JET (Japan English Teacher) Program is now becoming increasingly popular as explained in the article “Japan wants more Jamaicans”, published Thursday, October 01, 2015 BY Kimne Thompson, The Jamaica Observer

This is also resulting in a gradual brain drain of English Teachers as well as other trained professionals who are willing to teach English to learn Japanese as noted in “Japan and others gain from Jamaican brain drain”, published December 17th 2014 by Baye McNeil, Japan Times.

Even more evident is the CMI (Caribbean Maritime Institute) training of Cadets who'll eventually leave Jamaica to take up posts elsewhere in the maritime and logistics sectors as well as the burgeoning field of Mechatronics as explained in my blog article entitled “CMI's Future Mechatronics Engineers - Why Free Housing for Robotics Programmers vital to Jamaica's Growth”.

With possible salaries s high as US$3000 per month as a Maritime Engineer abroad they definitely aren’t coming back to work in Jamaica.

JA$100,000 Salary will not Stop Brain Drain – Problems in the Classroom as Engineering gets worse

Personally, I'd love a salary of JA$100,000 to teach Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry as well as housing and land allowances after I graduate from the Mico University College.

However, with the teaching environment in the classrooms in need of upgrading, I suspect the majority of that money will be spent on buying teaching aids and printing handouts in a bid to get the student excited about Mathematics and the Sciences.

After all, we're Mathematics and Science Teacher, not magicians. Plus the Engineering firms will eventually stop poaching Mathematics and Science Teachers when they realize that in cutting costs, they are also creating future problems in Engineering.

Ditto too for other STEM based fields such as Programming, Animation and Medicine as the economy gets worse and job prospects dwindle as noted in the article “Graduate Tracer Study Reveals Employment Prospects After UWI Dim”, published Monday November 23, 2015 by Andre Poyser, The Jamaica Gleaner.

They too will go abroad and not return to Jamaica, making the STEM Shortage overall even worse.

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