Irish teachers working in Dubai and other countries should be offered permanent jobs and accommodation concessions to lure them back to work in Irish schools, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has said.
The union’s general secretary, Kieran Christie, said measures such as permanent posts, a reduction in red tape and the shortening of the length of time required to qualify as a teacher were required. At present, “you could become a rocket scientist faster,” he said.
Initiatives with regard to accommodation for key workers such as doctors, nurses and teachers should also be considered, he urged. It is “unsustainable” to expect key workers to travel up to 70 miles to work. “Something will have to give,” he said.
Mr Christie, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, expressed disappointment at the “stale initiatives” proposed by Department of Education officials at a meeting this week. There was a “lack of ambition” on the part of the Minister, he said.
Nine out of 10 principals were reporting recruitment problems and some schools were dropping subjects as a result.
He said that thousands of teachers had gone abroad in recent years and questioned why did they go and how could they be “lured” back.
The unequal pay issue had been “somewhat” alleviated, but permanent posts had to be available as nobody was going to come back to a part time job. There also needed to be a root and branch rebuilding of the system for promotions within the system, Mr Christie added.
There was “an awful lot of red tape” required for teachers to re-register with the Teachers Council, said the ASTI general secretary. Teachers from other countries who could make a real contribution had to wait “months and months” to wade through the red tape.
He also added that the two-year Masters in Education programme should be reduced to one year. A two-year course was a luxury that the country could not afford. On top of a four-year undergraduate degree, it meant six years in education, which was almost as much time as it takes for a doctor to qualify.
“This needs to be dealt with at Government level. It needs a multifaceted approach,” Mr Christie said.