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Teacher Attrition in Fragile Contexts: Why Secondary School Teachers Leave the Profession in Afghanistan

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Abstract:

Substantial increments in the school-age population, the Education for All (EFA) mandate, and a “seven-fold” growth in number of students during the last decade have collectively increased the demand for teachers in Afghanistan; whereas, teachers from the public schools are leaving the teaching profession in large numbers. The lack of teachers poses serious challenges for the education system especially for Ministry of Education. This study examines factors influencing teacher attrition in public secondary schools in Kabul, Afghanistan. More specifically this study explores the leading factors of teacher attrition, i.e. why do teachers quit the teaching profession. It focuses on the impact of compensation and other benefits on the retention of teachers. It also discusses the alternative careers for teachers in Kabul, and tries to find out some possible strategies and ways to help improve teacher retention.
I reviewed literature related to teacher attrition, causes and factors of teacher attrition, and a review of theoretical concepts relevant to the notion and purpose of teacher attrition. In order to establish a theoretical framework that deals with teacher attrition and factors that push teachers to take such decisions, I used Maslow’s need hierarchy (1954) and Herzberg’s two-factor theory (1983). Both of the theories focus on the needs fulfillment and satisfaction of an individual in a context. Therefore, I tried to connect the factors of attrition with the concept of needs identified by Maslow and factors of job satisfaction proposed by Herzberg.
The study used a mixed method approach, using questionnaires, interviews and observations to collect data. A total of 44 current teachers and 18 former teachers were asked to respond to the questionnaires, while 2 current teachers, 3 former teachers, a principal, a student, and a member of Information Education Management Information System (EMIS) were interviewed.
The results of this study revealed that low salary is only one of the major factors for teacher attrition in Afghanistan. The study also found multiple other factors that influence teacher attrition including ineffective recruitment and deployment process (school distance); heavy workload; unequal work distribution and administration corruption; low salaries and other benefits; lack of professional development programs; and social factors. The study concluded that in some cases, only one of these factors causes the attrition while in many cases, a number of factors collectively compel teachers to leave their jobs. Recommendations suggest the need to reform policies, to restructure organizations, to increase teacher support, and to promote stakeholder engagement.
I will share the study findings with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to inform them about the factors to this phenomenon as well as to contribute in formulating strategies for coping with this problem and taking effective actions for reducing teacher attrition rate in the country.
The teacher shortage faced by poor countries is intensely illustrated by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) report. “It [(UIS)] estimates that between 14 and 22.5 million teachers will need to be recruited and trained by 2015” (UIS, 2004, p. vii). “The pupil–teacher ratio in Afghanistan was reasonably low – 32:1 – in 1998, yet by 2002 the ratio had doubled to 61:1” (UNESCO, 2006, p. 100). This was the result of the enrolment of large numbers of new students, especially previously excluded girls, in primary school. Class sizes rose so dramatically while few new teachers were hired to cope with the influx.
This study illuminated various facets of teacher attrition. I could not locate any previous studies conducted in Afghanistan, which documented attrition rate, its associated factors and its negative impacts. The Ministry of Education (MoE) strategy to address the shortage of teachers is a single loop treatment; they continue increasing the number of Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) and student enrollment in the TTCs, which has been ineffective. I believe that even a small-scale research study to explore the main causes of teacher attrition in secondary schools to later-on prioritize these causes from greatest to least, and share the study findings and suggested directions to MoE, will help in formulating strategies and programs for reducing teacher attrition. In fact, the result of this research can lead to designing and conducting large-scale research by the government and other larger organizations that work in the education sector in developing countries like Afghanistan. Moreover, this research could substantially contribute in identifying factors for teacher attrition as well as adapting strategies to cope with the problem teachers shortages compared to the current MoE single loop approach.
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p710020_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Aslami, Hassan. "Teacher Attrition in Fragile Contexts: Why Secondary School Teachers Leave the Profession in Afghanistan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p710020_index.html>

APA Citation:

Aslami, H. , 2014-03-10 "Teacher Attrition in Fragile Contexts: Why Secondary School Teachers Leave the Profession in Afghanistan" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p710020_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Substantial increments in the school-age population, the Education for All (EFA) mandate, and a “seven-fold” growth in number of students during the last decade have collectively increased the demand for teachers in Afghanistan; whereas, teachers from the public schools are leaving the teaching profession in large numbers. The lack of teachers poses serious challenges for the education system especially for Ministry of Education. This study examines factors influencing teacher attrition in public secondary schools in Kabul, Afghanistan. More specifically this study explores the leading factors of teacher attrition, i.e. why do teachers quit the teaching profession. It focuses on the impact of compensation and other benefits on the retention of teachers. It also discusses the alternative careers for teachers in Kabul, and tries to find out some possible strategies and ways to help improve teacher retention.
I reviewed literature related to teacher attrition, causes and factors of teacher attrition, and a review of theoretical concepts relevant to the notion and purpose of teacher attrition. In order to establish a theoretical framework that deals with teacher attrition and factors that push teachers to take such decisions, I used Maslow’s need hierarchy (1954) and Herzberg’s two-factor theory (1983). Both of the theories focus on the needs fulfillment and satisfaction of an individual in a context. Therefore, I tried to connect the factors of attrition with the concept of needs identified by Maslow and factors of job satisfaction proposed by Herzberg.
The study used a mixed method approach, using questionnaires, interviews and observations to collect data. A total of 44 current teachers and 18 former teachers were asked to respond to the questionnaires, while 2 current teachers, 3 former teachers, a principal, a student, and a member of Information Education Management Information System (EMIS) were interviewed.
The results of this study revealed that low salary is only one of the major factors for teacher attrition in Afghanistan. The study also found multiple other factors that influence teacher attrition including ineffective recruitment and deployment process (school distance); heavy workload; unequal work distribution and administration corruption; low salaries and other benefits; lack of professional development programs; and social factors. The study concluded that in some cases, only one of these factors causes the attrition while in many cases, a number of factors collectively compel teachers to leave their jobs. Recommendations suggest the need to reform policies, to restructure organizations, to increase teacher support, and to promote stakeholder engagement.
I will share the study findings with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to inform them about the factors to this phenomenon as well as to contribute in formulating strategies for coping with this problem and taking effective actions for reducing teacher attrition rate in the country.
The teacher shortage faced by poor countries is intensely illustrated by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) report. “It [(UIS)] estimates that between 14 and 22.5 million teachers will need to be recruited and trained by 2015” (UIS, 2004, p. vii). “The pupil–teacher ratio in Afghanistan was reasonably low – 32:1 – in 1998, yet by 2002 the ratio had doubled to 61:1” (UNESCO, 2006, p. 100). This was the result of the enrolment of large numbers of new students, especially previously excluded girls, in primary school. Class sizes rose so dramatically while few new teachers were hired to cope with the influx.
This study illuminated various facets of teacher attrition. I could not locate any previous studies conducted in Afghanistan, which documented attrition rate, its associated factors and its negative impacts. The Ministry of Education (MoE) strategy to address the shortage of teachers is a single loop treatment; they continue increasing the number of Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) and student enrollment in the TTCs, which has been ineffective. I believe that even a small-scale research study to explore the main causes of teacher attrition in secondary schools to later-on prioritize these causes from greatest to least, and share the study findings and suggested directions to MoE, will help in formulating strategies and programs for reducing teacher attrition. In fact, the result of this research can lead to designing and conducting large-scale research by the government and other larger organizations that work in the education sector in developing countries like Afghanistan. Moreover, this research could substantially contribute in identifying factors for teacher attrition as well as adapting strategies to cope with the problem teachers shortages compared to the current MoE single loop approach.


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