Guylaine Gignac (left), one of the past Project Overseas volunteers
Valuable educational programs offered to teachers in developing countries are in jeopardy.
Humanitarian projects undertaken for decades by Canadian teachers through the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) and funded in large part by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) have had their funding rejected.
Barbara MacDonald Moore, director of CTF’s international programs, was advised that CTF’s 2010–15 program proposal for financing international work has been rejected by CIDA.
For several months, CTF has been operating its programs without CIDA money while waiting for funding approval. Now, because of this unexpected decision, CTF will receive no funding from CIDA. CTF and its member organizations, including the ATA, will lobby to have the decision overturned so that committed and experienced staff can be retained and programming can continue.
CIDA’s decision to cut funding to CTF’s international assistance programs will have a serious effect on the ATA’s current international assistance partnership programs. The funding cut will effectively terminate all ATA/CTF initiatives with the exception of the 2011 Project Overseas, which unless funding is restored, will run one final time this summer; 2011 marks the 50th Project Overseas program.
The funding cut has resulted in the loss of 10 CTF international program staff positions. Equally vulnerable are the many projects worldwide involving hundreds of teachers and thousands of students that may cease with the withdrawal of federal support.
Project Overseas began in 1962 with one program in Nigeria. Since then, it has assisted teacher organizations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. A total of 1,850 Canadian teachers have participated in the program. The ripple effect of their participation has touched approximately 92,500 teachers and 2.6 million students around the world. Currently, approximately 50 volunteers are sent each summer to about a dozen countries.
The ATA has participated in Project Overseas since 1964. Since then, 354 Albertan teachers have been sponsored to go overseas to provide PD to colleagues in developing countries. The 2010/11 budget provides full funding for 11 Alberta participants. A total of 52 participants on 13 teams will travel to 12 countries this summer.
Additionally, the ATA supports efforts organized through CTF, all of which will be severely weakened by the federal government’s decision to deny funding. Current initiatives in the Caribbean and Africa are endangered as a result of funding cuts.
Françoise Ruban, ATA executive staff officer, Professional Development, and international officer, said a coordinated action plan to communicate teachers’ concerns to MPs is under way. “This decision is short-sighted, and we are saddened and disappointed that the federal government does not appear to appreciate the reciprocal benefit of these well-established programs,” Ruban said, noting that the cancellation of programs undermines Canada’s reputation as a global leader in education and development.
Project Overseas, an integral component of ATA international work, is often the only PD that teachers in developing countries receive. PD programs enhance the quality of education delivery in classrooms and quality education as part of national “Education for All” targets in their respective countries. Project Overseas 2011 is scheduled to have 52 Canadian teachers working with 74 co-tutors offering PD to 2,056 teachers. The lost funding will negatively affect more than 100,000 children in 12 countries this year alone.
Teachers are encouraged to express their support for CTF international education programs by emailing the Hon Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, at Oda.B@parl.gc.ca, and by contacting their own member of parliament (http://bit.ly/ajQtoG).