CANADIAN TEACHERS' FEDERATION MESSAGE: WTD '04
Tomorrow, Oct. 5, is World Teachers' Day
(CTF News Service - Ottawa) This year's World Teachers' Day (WTD) theme holds special meaning for Canada, one of the 100 countries taking part in this year's celebrations. The theme selected by Education International (EI) Quality Teachers for Quality Education features a special focus on "Recruitment and retention of qualified teachers".
"The theme definitely resonates with teachers and teacher organizations in Canada," says Ms. Terry Price, President of the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF). "Our investigations show that up to 30 per cent of beginning teachers in Canada are leaving teaching within the first five years of their teaching career."
In addition, the CTF President refers to the most recent Stats Canada National Graduates Survey which indicates that almost one quarter of graduates in elementary and secondary teacher training never go into teaching at all. In another report, Stats Canada has also indicated that education will be one of the first sectors to feel the retirement effects of the aging population in Canada. In fact, the Department said in 2003 that about half of the education workforce is likely to retire within 12 years.
"According to our own research, teacher retirements in 2002 were two and half times the number of teachers retiring a decade ago, in 1992. These factors, combined with retention issues, contribute to the school boards' continuing dilemma in hiring new teachers, specialists and, even more problematic, qualified substitute teachers.
"CTF and its Member organizations are very concerned with this situation because it impacts the quality of education for our children in the classroom, explains Ms. Price.
"Another factor is Canada's role as a key provider of qualified teachers for the industrialized world. Currently, the United States and many Commonwealth countries resort to innovative recruitment campaigns to lure our teachers away. These rich countries are not only recruiting here, but they are also scouring the countries of the developing world to hire their best and brightest teachers. This exercise of "human poaching" from the most vulnerable countries has resulted in many countries - especially in Western Africa, hiring unqualified voluntary teachers, providing them with a few weeks' crash course and then placing them in classrooms filled to the brim, explains Ms. Price.
"In Canada, the international teacher shortage is not the sole culprit behind our situation. Many provincial governments have also contributed to the exodus of Canadian teachers. Only a few weeks ago, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ranked Canada 19th out of 30 countries for its funding of primary and secondary schooling in 2001. At 3.4 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product, it is less than the OECD average of 3.8 per cent.
"The deterioration of teacher working conditions and cuts to public education, particularly in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, in the last decade have taken a toll. Although certain jurisdictions have started to exhibit positive signs by increasing their support for public education, much still needs to be accomplished," she concludes.
In Canada, a variety of activities will take place in most provinces and territories to celebrate World Teachers' Day. In the National Capital Region, CTF will have a display to showcase its international programs and activities at the Canadian International Development Agency office at Place du Portage in Hull.
For more information, please refer to the provincial and territorial teacher organizations' media contacts. CTF invites students who wish to send an e-greeting to their teacher to visit the EI's Web site.
IT is important to highlight the 'Canadian connection' with World Teachers' Day which has been recognized all over the world since 1994. It was the brainchild of a Canadian teacher, Norman Goble, a former CTF Secretary General and then director of the World Confederation of Organizations of the Teaching Profession.
In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated October 5 World Teachers' Day at the 44th Session of the International Conference on Education in Geneva. The date coincides with the anniversary of the adoption in 1966 of the Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. In adopting the UNESCO recommendation, governments around the world unanimously recognized the need and importance for every society to have competent, qualified and motivated teachers.
CTF is at the forefont of Canadian support for the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers throughout the developing world. Teacher organizations are important players in the provision of support and training for teachers as poor countries try to reach the millions of children deprived of an education.
CTF represents over 200,000 teachers across Canada. Worldwide, EI represents 29 million teachers in over 165 countries and territories.
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