Teacher Mobility, 'Brain Drain', Labour Markets and Educational Resources in the Commonwealth. Researching the Issues 66


The report builds on the work undertaken by Ochs (published in 2003) which provided useful figures on recruitment of teachers and the experiences of overseas teachers working in the UK and led, at the 15th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers, to the establishment of a Commonwealth working group to develop a draft protocol on teaching recruitment. The report provides a set of detailed analyses to assist policy development. There are three key themes around which the project was developed. Exploration of these themes led to the development of policy recommendations.

The first aim was to ascertain the extent of international flows of trained teachers. Are certain states losing valuable trained manpower, while others are benefiting disproportionately from the output of other countries? Are these flows offset by significant reverse flows, which may indicate that sending countries benefit from the experience their teachers obtain abroad? How do such flows compare with those in related fields, especially health? Specific figures will enable policy-makers to assess the extent of the problem and to examine benefits and losses.

Secondly, the causes of such flows were examined, exploring the 'push' and 'pull' factors. What are the 'supply side' factors? For example, how do age or gender issues impact on teachers' willingness to migrate? The report also discusses how the recruitment process works in practice. Are recruitment agencies, where they are involved, schools (in both sending and receiving countries) and overseas teachers satisfied with the process and outcomes?

Thirdly, the social consequences of these flows in developing countries were considered. Crucial here are the linkages between migrant teachers and their home country, in terms of remittances, return migration and other effects. It is hypothesised, for instance, that a key social cost of teacher flows to source countries was the cost of training teachers that subsequently migrate. The implications of teacher flows for recruitment shortages and the delivery of education services in source countries was a key objective of the research.

The study focused on four case-study countries within the Commonwealth. These were identified as two 'sending' countries, namely Jamaica and South Africa, two of the most vocal countries at the 15th CCEM, and two 'receiving' countries, namely the United Kingdom (because of devolution, specifically England) and Botswana. This also gave the opportunity of looking at 'South-South' mobility as well as 'South-North' mobility.


Educational Paper No. 66, DFID, London, UK, ISBN 66 1 86192 762 2, 218 pp.

Teacher Mobility, ‘Brain Drain’, Labour Markets and Educational Resources in the Commonwealth. Researching the Issues 66

Published 1 January 2006