Education International
Education International

Canada: Teachers report on state of public education

published 20 July 2011 updated 11 August 2011

The Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF), a member of Education International, has published a report on the state of Canadian public education from the perspective of teachers. The study involved 434 teachers from around Canada and highlights the growing concerns about budget and staff cuts.

The report, titled “The Voice of Canadian Teachers on Teaching and Learning”, draws on the experience and expertise of teachers in order to address educational policy debates in Canada. When considering reforms to education, the point of view of teachers is among the most valuable, as teachers see the day-to-day effects of a policy and how they affect a student’s achievement.

CTF President Mary-Lou Donnelly said: “Increasingly, educational policy decisions are being informed by people with little or no background in public education. Often missing in the debate is the voice of teachers who play such an important role supporting, inspiring and educating our country's future generation.”

The financial crisis has created scarce resources for public services around the globe, especially schools. The report emphasises that issue, proving that the strongest concerns among teachers are partially a result of economic difficulties. Staff and budget cuts, reported as one major challenge, create an environment of professional instability and prevent teachers from having the resources to do their jobs well.

Teachers’ concerns focus largely on the reduction of a school’s human resources, but concerns also centre around the effects of a declining economy on a student’s morale. The survey report that poverty is the key factor affecting a student’s education, and that the mental issues stemming from a family’s economic issues have been severe and challenging to address.

To overcome these challenges, teachers responded with what tactics most effectively advanced a student’s education. Implementing smaller class sizes was the most popular response, but is a goal further complicated by the ongoing budget cuts. Technology was also reported as a significant positive influence, although many teachers say that they are still lacking several key resources.

The surveyed teachers also urged for an increase in professional development in order to be more effective in the classroom and be better prepared to address the issues preventing students from achieving their greatest educational potential. Additionally, more than half of teachers said that provincial standardised testing challenged their ability to provide students with a well-rounded education.

The report is a timely piece that gives the public an insight on the needs of teachers. Although every nation’s educational system is unique, the fundamental aspects of a quality education are universal, and this report emphasises that teachers can lead the way to stable, inclusive and high-quality schools.