Efforts to attain the Department for International Education's Millennium Goal of universal primary education by 2015 may be threatened by the international flow of trained teachers.
While there is a gap in knowledge of these movements and their implications, many educationists believe they could contribute to a brain drain that would undermine education in developing countries and allows developed countries to benefit from investments in education and training in developing countries.
The Department for International Development has commissioned the Centre for Comparative Education Research and the School of Economics at Nottingham University to conduct case studies in the Commonwealth, focusing on Jamaica, South Africa, Botswana and England.
The studies will examine:
- Whether some states are losing teachers, while others are benefiting from other countries' output
- The causes of flows and whether teacher mobility is "demand driven", with flows generated in response to shortages in receiving countries
- The social consequences of these flows in developing countries.
John Morgan, director of the Nottingham-based centre, said: "The expansion of the General Agreement of Trade in Services into the realm of education has been greeted with controversy. The agreement focuses on the movement of labour between consenting members.However, what if the balance of trading power is grossly unequal? This is an ethical issue that needs consideration as policy evolves."