Filipino teachers emigrate to Minnesota amid teaching shortage

·Contributor
·2 min read
A teacher sorts educational modules in preparation for distance learning in the upcoming opening of classes, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in an elementary school, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 24, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
A teacher sorts educational modules in preparation for distance learning in the upcoming opening of classes, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in an elementary school, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 24, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Filipino and Nicaraguan teachers are filling the gap left by a teaching shortage at a public school in Minnesota, United States.

"I like it because you are going to learn in another culture," said Missi May Flores of Willmar Public Schools, as reported by CBS News.

Willmar's human resources director Liz Windingstad expressed hopes that these teachers will be able to adjust as soon as possible in the United States, while helping kindergarteners and third and fourth graders learn critical subjects like Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Readings.

"When I first started 10 years ago we would have 300 applications for elementary positions. We are lucky if we hit 30 now," said Windingstad. "If they weren’t here, we’d have four more teacher openings right now. It’s an option. And so far, it’s been awesome and successful for us."

With a J-1 visa, the teachers can work in the US for up to five years. They are also hoping to bring their children to Willmar by the next school year, and intend to bring back whatever they have learned to the Philippines.

"We know that we need this so that we go back to our country, we can help other teachers too,” kindergarten teacher Katherin Cusa said.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, a teachers’ group is warning Department of Education Secretary and Vice President Sara Duterte that authorities should be more concerned about teachers leaving the country.

"Parami nang parami sa mga kabaro namin ang nangingibang-bayan na o nag-aaplay ng trabaho sa Vietnam, Thailand, China, Europa at iba pa dahil napakahirap maging guro sa bayan natin," said Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines’ chairperson Vladimer Quetua.

(More and more of our co-teachers are migrating or applying for work in Vietnam, Thailand, China, Europe, and other countries because it’s extremely hard to be a teacher in our country.)

He added, "Iyan ang katotohanan na dapat haraping ng ating gobyerno. (That’s the reality that our government must face.)"

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.