Some UK-based teachers are choosing to relocate to Doha following a series of strikes in Britain.
A recent wave of teachers’ strikes in the UK has led many to consider seeking better opportunities elsewhere, including in Qatar.
Many were driven by concerns over funding, workload, and well-being in the UK education sector.
Teachers’ salaries in England had reportedly fallen by an average of 11% between 2010 and 2022, taking inflation and the increase in the cost of living into account.
Unions, such as the National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), were at the forefront of these strikes, advocating for better working conditions and improved teacher compensations.
Mike, 25, an English teacher at the state secondary school in London, shared on Reddit his thoughts on why teachers were leaving the UK.
He said the British government was sacrificing its citizens, as talented teachers were flocking to Qatar for better pay and working conditions.
Mike said one of his colleagues had ambitions to go to Qatar for work and ultimately secured a job as soon as he was able.
And now Mike, who had been teaching for around three years, was looking to do the same. He said, “I personally have looked at jobs [abroad] that would accept qualifications from this country.”
Mike highlighted that the move was not driven by “greed” but by the deteriorating conditions inside England’s schools, which was pushing teachers to the brink.
Colleagues at his school had had to take days off due to poor mental health and were teaching classes with over 30 students.
There was recent and added pressure from Covid 19 and remote learning too. He added that there was limited funding for public schools and little support from the British government.
“If teachers are not adequately supported, and if they’re in working conditions that are stressful, then the kids will continue to suffer,” Mike said.
According to data from the Department for Education (DfE), more schools than ever had to close during the last teachers’ strike in England.
This indicated a significant impact on education delivery and disruption for students.
The strikes also led to the partial or complete closure of thousands of schools across England.
Teachers who are members of the NEU were actively participating in these strikes. The NEU has even considered re-balloting its members for another six months of strike action, potentially extending the disruption into the next school year.
Meanwhile, teachers who have moved to Qatar recently have got mostly good things to say about their experience.
‘Long recruitment period’
Raj, who did not disclose his full name, is a 27-year-old science teacher who had moved after an unpleasant experience back home.
“Qatar is conservative in its culture and its values, and it doesn’t really succumb to modern-day liberal pressure,” he said when explaining why he chose to stay. “As a Muslim, I feel very comfortable.”
He said that the pay, compensation, and amenities were indeed better, but that additional cultural quality interested him as a British-South Asian expat. He felt that he was part of an inclusive community.
Most teachers get recruited through recruitment firms, international agencies, or online portals. When deciding to move to the Gulf, they are heavily influenced by their peers who have been there and by media outlets who report on working conditions.
“In the past, I am actively trying to get more of my friends to move in here because it is a rewarding experience,” Raj said.
But he also pointed out that he wouldn’t recommend working in the Gulf for everyone.
“I am aware of the huge privilege I have with my passport. I have peers who are paid less but have more experience than I do. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone,” he said.
He also added that the recruiting process was long and cumbersome.
“You need to have appropriate certifications but also the interviewing and recruitment took me months,” he said.
Teaching in Qatar at an international private school requires a teaching degree and 2-3 years of practical teaching experience as well as a TEFL/TESOL certification, especially as a language teacher.
The average monthly income for a teacher in Qatar ranges from a tax-free 9,000 to 16,000 Qatari Riyals (around $2,500 – $4,400 US dollars). Some schools offer accommodation and transportation too.