Friday, June 24, 2016

The Qualifications Conundrum

This first term as International Principal has thrown its challenges our way but most of them are taken care of with teamwork and usually common sense.

One problem that we have been having is with turnover. Not really turnover of older teachers (we all stay and stay for a long time) but with newly hired teachers, specifically our Kindergarten and Nursery teachers.

Our school just increased the tuition quite steeply and the parents were promised native speakers of the English language so their children get an "immersion" type of learning environment. Previously we have hired Filipinos to occupy these teaching positions and they do a fine job. But now the parents expect a white face. That has become the term in the HR and hiring and interviewing circles; "I have an interview with a white teacher today." You get the point.

I'm not proud to say it, but it's the reality here with education as a business...people are paying for a white face.

So, we started the term with six new teachers for the Kindergarten and Nursery. Five of them are/were South Africans who fit the "white" profile but not the native speaker profile. Parents were over the moon to see the Kindergarten filled with pasty white teachers ;) They come from an agency and have paid quite a bit of money to get here and be trained to be ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers, although they don't hold college degrees...meaning they never finished college.

But again, skin color trumps experience or qualification.

On the other hand, we also hired qualified Filipino teachers. Degrees in Elementary education or early years education. But the parents are quick to refuse to accept them as their students' teachers. We can only use them as teaching assistants to the whites.

So, with that as background, three of our original six new teachers quit or left the school in the first month of classes and we've replaced two of them, still looking for a third. One Filipino replacement started last week and is a qualified teacher, certified in her home country...but we can only hire her as an assistant. We hired her and she accepted the job as an assistant to a new South African teacher, with no college degree...

The Filipino girl is trying so hard to quit because she wants to teach, not assist. I don't blame her quite honestly. Crisis chats online late into the night last night and early this morning. She came to school today so that is a positive. I have a meeting with her right after I publish this post ;) While typing this post, I got a message saying that our new South African teacher has quit already...she hasn't even started yet and she's quit already!! I was planning her orientation for Monday!!

So we have the over qualified teacher wanting to quit because she can't teach and use her education as a tool...and the unqualified agency kid, who would have been a goddess in the eyes of the parents, quit as well...

Back to the drawing board!! Lots of interviews (not me, the HR department) this weekend and early next week I guess.

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