Trends in International and Internal Teacher Mobility in Three Pacific Island Countries

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Abstract

High-skilled migration has increasingly been the subject of migration research over the past decade, but the focus has tended to be on health and IT professionals. In this paper, we address the mobility of schoolteachers in a region that has so far received little attention, the Pacific Islands. It is timely to examine trends in teacher mobility in the Pacific, given the shortages that are occurring elsewhere. In particular, the tailoring of immigration policies to attract highly skilled workers in areas of shortage could impact on the Pacific. The focus of the paper is on emigration and we argue that of three countries studied, only Fiji is negatively affected by teacher mobility. The Cook Islands and Vanuatu are currently experiencing low levels of international teacher emigration. Levels of internal mobility are also investigated in an attempt to see if remote areas and outer islands are experiencing teacher shortages. The preference for working near one’s land or on one’s home island is a strong drawcard in bringing people back home to teach. A problem arises, however, when not enough people are trained from a region/island and the incentives to encourage others to go and work there are less than effective.

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