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How Do Other Countries Recruit and Retain Rural Teachers?

The United States isn't the only country that struggles with teacher shortages in rural schools. A recent piece written by Lucy Crehan, an associate at the Education Development Trust, and published by The Guardian, highlights the efforts of several countries to recruit rural educators. 

Here are some of those recruitment tactics:

  • Japan rotates teachers through different schools every six years to provide learning opportunities for teachers and ensure that all schools have access to quality, experienced teachers. Teachers receive stipends, professional development, and mentoring when they move to a new area. Rural schools in Japan are facing many of the same challenges as rural American schools, including declining populations, long commutes for students, and demanding teaching positions that require teachers to teach multiple grade levels or subject areas.
  • Teachers in Korea also rotate through different schools but they receive more credit toward promotion by working in disadvantaged schools. Many of Korea's rural schools have been forced to close as more families have moved to urban areas. In addition to trying to attract teachers, some rural communities have also offered incentives like free housing to lure families with children to schools with dwindling populations.  
  • In Australia, like the U.S., states vary in the incentives they offer. Some provide housing subsidies that cover up to 100 percent of housing costs, funds for vacation travel, and an allowance due to "isolation from goods and services."
  • In the United Kingdom, teachers who are part of the country's National Teaching Service can receive up to £10,000 to relocate to hard-to-staff areas. A 2014 article by The Guardian reported that students in rural schools perform lower on national exams than children in many of the country's inner-city schools, which may be partly due to a lack of teachers.

Unlike the United States, where various states offer incentives like stipends or loan forgiveness and many rural schools must find solutions to shortages, several of the above initiatives are part of a national system and are not solely dependent on rural schools or individual states. If you know of successful incentive programs in other countries, please comment below!

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