Georgia lures our English teachers

2011-10-08 17:05

The Transvaal Agricultural Union is helping the former Soviet Republic of Georgia to recruit English teachers for its public schools, promising the “benefit to live and work in a safe environment”.

Union general manager Bennie van Zyl said: “Georgia needs a lot of help to rise from the circumstances brought on by its ­socialist and communist past.”

Georgia seeks to appoint an ­English-speaking teacher in every school on a contract basis and in return is willing to pay about R2 000 a month.

The “golden opportunity for young, qualified” South African teachers also comes with two return-tickets a year, ­accommodation with a Georgian family and food, the agricultural union said.

Van Zyl said he had had three enquiries since his organisation sent out a statement promoting Georgia’s recruitment drive.

Georgia has since the beginning of the year been appointing foreign teachers because very few Georgians speak ­English.

This is the second recruitment drive the agricultural union has undertaken to “assist” Georgia. Last year it signed a ­cooperation agreement with the Georgian government allowing South ­African farmers to farm in that country.

So far four farmers have settled there and will rake in their first harvest soon.

Van Zyl said teaching English in ­Georgia is a good opportunity for young South African teachers “who have difficulty finding a job” at home and “who are interested in helping with education in Georgian schools on a contract basis”.

Asked if R2 000 a month would be­ enough for South African teachers, Van Zyl said Georgians do not place high ­value on money but more on “service ­delivery”.

In South Africa, a newly qualified teacher can earn a salary package of about R10 000 a month.

Van Zyl raved about the country’s safety and how it got rid of corruption.

Georgia, however, has in the past year been criticised locally and in the European ­Union (EU) – of which it is not a member – for its poor labour rights record.

Local trade unions in May called on the EU at the International Trade Union Confederation meeting in Belgium to ­exercise political leverage to force ­Georgia to respect ­international labour-rights standards.

Three American teachers related their experiences while teaching in Georgia to the New York Times in January.

They said they had experienced problems with ill-equipped classrooms and teaching tools, low interest among ­students to learn, difficulties in working with Georgian teachers, cold weather and poorly ventilated classrooms heated with mini-wood stoves, and a lack of ­textbooks.

Jason Norton (23), from Colorado in the US, said there were “many obstacles preventing this cadre of foreign teachers from doing their jobs effectively”.

At the time of going to press, Van Zyl was unable to put City Press in touch with a South African teacher who had ­recently returned from teaching in ­Georgia.

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