By Parinaaz Navdar
86% of teachers employed by international schools are predominantly from the UK and North America
International schools in the Middle East currently employ the highest percentage of Western teachers in the world at 86% of all full time staff, according to the International Schools Consultancy (ISC Research).
Speaking at the International Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF), Richard Gaskell, director for international schools at ISC Research also noted that in some premium international schools in the region, the number of Western teaching staff increases to 92%, predominantly from the UK and North America.
The number of teachers in the Middle East has grown from 74,639 in 2011 to 112,242 in 2016.
ISC Research data also showed that at the end of the last academic year, international schools around the world were employing a total of 417,895 full time teaching staff. This number is set to more than double over the next 10 years, with ISC Research predicting that there will be a need for 906,773 teachers at English-medium international schools by 2026.
"If international school standards are to remain high, justifying the school fees and maintaining the high demand for school places, this will require the employment of teachers who have the skills and experience to teach globally recognised curricula such as the National Curriculum of England, the International Baccalaureate and American curricula," Gaskell stated.
In the UAE, which currently has 589 English-medium international schools across the pre-school, primary and secondary school levels, the teaching staff are dominated by the British at 49%, followed by those from North America at 15%. The rest are made up of teaching staff from Australia or New Zealand (5%), other European (7%) and local/Arab expats (less than 1%).
One way to reduce the imbalance would be to create more teacher-training programs in the region. There are very few if any accredited teacher colleges in the Gulf.
One way to remove the reliance on foreign trained teachers (and I am one) is to provide locals with the opportunity to gain the same level of training we have. Since very few leave the region to attend school, and since there is such a stigma against online and distance training, we need to offer 'quality, accredited' teacher training certificates and Masters Degrees with the same level of practical experience and rigor as a CELTA or DELTA might provide.
Personally, I don't believe you 'need' to import the majority of your teachers due to their direct experience with the curriculum or systems you want to use here. Many are capable of reaching this level if you give them the chance to obtain the same quality training.