Education International
Education International

Canada: CTF conference tackles issues facing families

published 8 February 2011 updated 8 February 2011

Participants at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) Women's Symposium have debated issues facing families including violence; poverty reduction; marginalisation of children; diversity and healthy lifestyles at a three-day event.

The EI affiliate’s event was held in Moncton, Canada, from 4-7 February, with the challenging theme of ‘21st Century Families: Exploring Multiple Realities,’ which enabled teachers from across the country to learn more about issues facing families across the country.

President of New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, Noreen Bonnell, who spoke at the conference, said: “What we are exploring are all of the realities that affect women and men in the workforce, children in schools and outside, and how it impacts the families at home.”

Some issues, such as intimate partner violence, labour market evolution and non-profit organisations, may not at first appear to fit in a conference related to education in schools, but Bonnell says schools try to work with, and develop, children in every way. Therefore, communication with homes and families and understanding the issues they may be exposed to is important.

Another of the speakers at the conference, former Member of Parliament, Claudette Bradshaw, tackled the issue of poverty and abuse and how it can affect children. Bradshaw stated her belief that teachers do not receive enough resources to deal with children with the greatest difficulties.

“If something happens, (teachers are) usually blamed,” she said. “That affects me a lot and I really do not like that, because I have always felt that we do not give them the tools that they need to teach our children. And that's always upsets me, and I've always been a big advocate of the teacher in the classroom.”

Bradshaw added: “Governments need to start paying more attention to what frontline teachers are saying when it comes to making policy decisions or determining where to spend money in education.”

She pointed to the shocking statistic that 46 per cent of Canadians are illiterate to illustrate her view that if government listened to teachers more closely, illiteracy rates across the country wouldn't be nearly as high.

EI encourages Canadian teachers to discuss these issues after the conference and develop responses to provide quality education for all children in their country. As the global union federation representing 30 million education workers, EI also urges the Canadian authorities to give teachers the financial means to do so.