Teacher migration will be chronic in three years if not stopped, says JTA boss

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, September 12, 2023


JAMAICA TEACHERS’ Association (JTA) President Leighton Johnson is warning that if the current issue of teacher migration for overseas employment is not dealt with immediately, the problem will escalate with more teachers leaving Jamaica’s education sector by 2026.

Johnson sounded the warning on Friday while addressing the general meeting of the Rotary Club of New Kingston, which was hosted in-person at the Liguanea Club in Kingston and online on the Zoom platform.

“Zeroing in on the last two years, Jamaica has lost approximately 10 per cent of its teachers to our overseas jurisdictions. If it is not treated with, this will become an even more chronic issue in the next three years, and what is the reason for this current wave of teacher migration? The reason is prosperity, as teachers in Jamaica are simply unable to comfortably take care of their families,” Johnson told the meeting.

“In the early and mid-1980s, our country experienced a wave of teacher migration, migrating from our nation not necessarily to take up teaching positions in our overseas jurisdictions, but teachers simply moved away from the classroom and many persons at that time simply changed their professions. During the last five years, we have once again seen a new insurgence of teacher migration, but the difference this time around is that many of them are actually going to ply their trade in other jurisdictions in the classroom,” Johnson added.

The JTA boss’ admonition on Friday follows a prediction he made in a media interview earlier this week that more teachers will submit their resignations during the current school term which began on Monday, September 4, following the 854 educators who have left the classroom as at August 30.


Teacher migration has been a longstanding thorn in the side of the Ministry of Education, despite Education Minister Fayval Williams’ assurance that the departure of the 854 teachers is less than the 1,538 teachers who resigned from the profession between January and September 2022.

The ministry is currently compiling data on the educators’ resignations to decide on a course of action if the number of departures by the end of September surpasses the 1,538 departures last year.

Johnson also told Friday’s Rotary Club meeting that higher wages and better benefits are drawing Jamaica’s teachers away to other territories such as the United States (US), which he said is seeking to bolster its own teacher shortage by drawing in educators from other jurisdictions.

“In the next year and a half, the US will need approximately 300,000 teachers, and these vacancies have been created post-COVID. Although their wages are low for their residents, the wages that the beginning teacher receives in the US is at least twice the amount that a beginning teacher in Jamaica receives. The teacher in the US receives approximately J$7 million per year; our teachers get just over J$3 million,” said Johnson.

“The US is so serious about filling the gaps that have been created [in their country] that they have now relaxed their qualifications for teachers entering their classrooms, and teachers are now taken from Jamaica with little or no experience. Teacher retention is essential now, and if we do not curtail this at this point, in the next three years our country is going to be in a critical state of teacher shortage,” Johnson noted.

2023 Live Stream