Asia Minute: New Zealand Still Faces Teacher Shortage

Feb 24, 2020

Hawaii shares many cultural ties with New Zealand. But the two island groups also share some challenges. And one of them is a consistent shortage of teachers.

New Zealand is less than a month into its latest public school term, and it’s once again suffering from a familiar problem: not enough teachers.

But the situation is not as bad as it was a year ago.

Radio New Zealand quotes figures from the Ministry of Education showing there are nearly 200 vacancies for teachers — down by about a hundred from last year at this time. New Zealand’s central government has been working on increasing the number of teachers for several years now — including recruiting prospects from overseas.

The New Zealand Herald quotes Education Minister Chris Hipkins as saying about 900 teachers have been recruited from outside New Zealand over the last year and a half.

Even so, shortages still pop up, especially in Auckland — on the country’s north island.

Last May, more than 50,000 teachers and principals went on strike across New Zealand — one of the largest labor actions in the country’s history.

Under the settlement, teachers received pay increases of three percent a year for three years.

Critics say that does not keep up with a cost of living that has risen much faster.

Statistics show that nearly half of teachers in the country leave the profession within five years – often citing not only low wages, but also growing class sizes and too much paperwork.