Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: teacher trainees’ perspective from a Myanmar context

December, 2019

Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, 45:5, 511-524

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Considering the shortage of teachers in Myanmar, this study tried to find out why teacher candidates chose to become a teacher.
The results could help to aid the government and policy makers in teacher recruitment in their efforts to bridge the gap.

Research hypotheses
(1) There is no significant difference in teacher trainees’ teaching motivations by gender.
(2) There is no significant difference in teacher trainees’ teaching motivations in terms of their intention to work as a teacher before attending the courses.
(3) There is no significant difference in teacher trainees’ teaching motivations in terms of their satisfaction with the career choice.
(4) There is no significant difference in teacher trainees’ teaching motivations according to their residency.


The researcher purposely selected teacher trainees from University for the Development of National Races of the Union (UDNR) as it has a good sample that covers all the nationalities across Myanmar.
The study involved 306 (96.23%) first-year teacher trainees out of 318 enrolled in five-year B.Ed. course.
Although the participants cover all the states and regions, the majority (68%) of them are from minority ethnic groups in border areas of the country.
The study took place during the second semester of 2017–2018 Academic Year.

The study used the questionnaires as the main instrument to collect the data.
The authors adapted the instrument ‘Reasons for Entering Teaching’, Saban (2003) into the Myanmar language so that the participants could understand the questionnaires clearly.
The first part of the questionnaires comprised fixed response questions to obtain the participants’ demographic information.
The second part consisted of both Likert-style items and open-ended questions.
The instructions for the participants started as, ‘The following items state the possible reasons that might make you decide to choose to teach as your career.
How much did each of these reasons influence your decision?’ The items were measured on a five-point Likert scale ranging from (1 = not influential at all to 5 = most influential).
Two open-ended questions: ‘(1) Why did you choose teaching as your career? and (2) Are you satisfied with your choice of career as a teacher? Why?’ were included at the end of this section.

Data collection
Three hundred and six teacher trainees, except 12 who were not in the class when the questionnaires were distributed, willingly took part in the study.
The participants took about 25 minutes to complete the questionnaire and they were returned to the researchers on the spot with a response rate of 100%.

Results and Discussion
The authors report that the results of factor analysis ascertained that Myanmar teacher trainees’ reasons given for choosing teaching profession fell under three main themes of extrinsic, intrinsic and altruistic like other metropolitan and developing countries.
Most teacher trainees believed that teaching is a sacred profession and they had a desire to work with children to share knowledge and make them succeed in learning at school. However, they did not choose the teaching profession as it had a good income.
The finding is similar to that of other studies: student teachers in Turkey (Saban 2003), pre-service teachers in Britain and Norway (Kyriacou, Hultgren, and Stephens 1999), and first-year Caribbean teacher candidates (Brown 1992), in which most of teacher candidates’ teaching motivations were altruistic.
However, this finding was contrary to that of Bastick (2000), who found that preservice teachers in developing or undeveloped societies, they choose teaching as a career with extrinsic or mercenary-based extrinsic motives.
Although Myanmar is a developing country, the altruistic motivations seemed to be more dominant.
The authors note that in general, female teacher trainees tended to be more motivated to be a teacher than male trainees.
Remarkably, females were more extrinsically motivated towards becoming a classroom teacher than males.
This means that females favourably considered the extrinsic factors such as salary, holidays, job security, etc., when they chose the teaching profession.
This outcome is contrary to other studies with pre-service teachers in Turkey (Yüce, Şahin, and Koçer 2013), and pre-service teachers in Ireland (Johnston, McKeown, and McEwen 1999), in which males selected a teaching career based on extrinsic and mercenary motives such as money and social status of profession.
On the other hand, the authors point out that it seemed that male pre-service teachers did not perceive a teacher’s salary as an enticement to choose teaching career.
According to Higgins et al. (2016, 126), ‘low salaries for teachers have contributed to the feminisation of teaching profession’ in Myanmar.
The world bank data pointed out that the percentages of female teachers in secondary schools have been increasing enormously up to 85% in 2010 (UNESCO 2018).
The authors suggest that policymakers should give thoughtful consideration for the issues of a highly gendered profession in Myanmar.
Creating incentives should be a major consideration when thinking about the recruitment of male teachers.
More than half of the participants (65.7%) reported teaching was their first choice.
This group had significantly higher mean scores compared to those who did not intend to choose teaching profession (31%).
Concerning satisfaction with their career choice, most of the trainees (91.5%) were satisfied with their choice.
Interestingly, this group had significantly higher mean scores compared to the other two groups: those who had no satisfaction with their career choice (4.6%) and those who were neutral (3.9%).
The authors conclude that teacher trainees’ first choice and satisfaction with their choice are important factors as teaching motivation is related to job satisfaction, commitment to teaching and the reason to remain in the career.
The authors found that regardless of whether they come from states or regions, teacher candidates’ teaching motivations were not significantly different; residency is not a significant factor in teaching motivation.
One unexpected finding was that the language of instruction in a classroom is another challenge for minority children from remote areas.
The authors suggest that as a multi-ethnic country, a Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education should be fully implemented to enable children of ethnic minorities actively to engage in all teaching and learning activities without barriers, using both the national and their own languages.
The authors conclude that as the teacher trainees come from the border areas, most of them lived as children in poverty and most of their parents were non-graduates.
However, they realised that education is key to the alleviation of poverty and to the improvement of society in underdeveloped areas.
Therefore, they decided to choose the teaching profession to educate their people.

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Higgins, S., E. Maber, M. L. Cardozo, and R. Shah. 2016. The Role of Education in Peacebuilding Country Report: Myanmar. Netherlands: University of Amsterdam
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Kyriacou, C., A. Hultgren, and P. Stephens. 1999. “Student Teachers’ Motivation to Become a Secondary School Teacher in England and Norway.” Teacher Development 3: 373–381
Saban, A. 2003. “A Turkish Profile of Prospective Elementary School Teachers and Their Views of Teaching.” Teaching and Teacher Education 19: 829–846. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2003.03.004
UNESCO. 2018. “The World Bank.” Accessed 7 June 2018. SEC.TCHR.FE.ZS?locations=MM
Yüce, K., E. Y. Şahin, and Ö. Koçer. 2013. “Motivations for Choosing as a Career: A Perspective of Pre-service Teachers from a Turkish Context.” Asia Pacific Education Review 14: 295–306. doi:10.1007/s12564-013-9258-9  

Updated: Jun. 03, 2020