International development charity VSO has called on the large numbers of teachers who have taken early retirement to consider volunteering overseas. The appeal comes as Donegal schools this week are taking stock of the large number of teachers who have left the education system early to avail of better pension entitlements. Over two thousand teachers across the country took early retirement at the end of February in line with the Croke Park Agreement.
VSO the worlds largest volunteer charity, recruit experienced educational professionals to work in over thirty three developing countries worldwide by sharing their skills with local partners. Placements are long term generally one to two years with volunteers matched by their skill set to local partners.
VSO volunteers who have built up have built up years of experience achieve real results on the ground in developing countries by sharing their skills and leaving a sustainable programme behind. In Ethiopia for example Irish teachers volunteering with VSO have been key to a steady increase in school enrolments and student friendlier teaching practices.
Maria Rafferty from Glenties spent two years working at Jimma University in Ethiopia as an English language lecturer. Speaking about the experience she said: “When I retired I felt I had still a lot more to give. The great thing about VSO is that I was just not stuck in a classroom. While my placement focused on improving English at the university I also shared my skills and experience with local colleagues to hopefully improve various educational practices at Jimma after my placement finished. VSO is all about building capacity and leaving a sustainable programme behind which I felt I achieved.”
Speaking of the need for retired teachers Director of VSO Ireland, Malcolm Quigley added: “I would call on all teachers who have taken retirement to consider volunteering with VSO. Their skills need not be consigned to the scrapheap; they are highly valued by VSO and by the millions of people who stand to benefit from a better education system in developing countries like Ethiopia’
“Last year VSO volunteers trained 1,363 Ethiopian teacher trainers who, in turn, will train more than 11,000 student teachers. These teachers will go on to teach nearly 800,000 children. This ripple effect has a transforming effect on the lives of individuals and on their country’s prospects”.
Experienced teachers with VSO work across the developing world with regional education bureaus and teacher education institutions to help deliver training programmes and develop the skills of their local colleagues. A VSO volunteer will have their costs covered while on placement including flights, accommodation while also receiving a local wage.