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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 7, May/June 2005

Canadian teachers hold high the lamp of learning in developing countries

by Francine Filion

For more than 40 years, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation’s lamp of learning has shone brightly in developing countries in its global quest to nurture knowledge and end poverty. A new CTF Trust Fund agreement with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) ensures international co-operation efforts for another five years.

The federal government’s announcement of a five-year agreement totaling $10.7 million dollars for basic education initiatives in developing countries is welcome news for the CTF and its member organizations.

Paddy Torsney, parliamentary secretary to Minister of International Co-operation Aileen Carroll, made the announcement at a CTF-organized breakfast on Parliament Hill. More than 100 attended the launch of Global Action Week (GAW) in Canada—including members of CTF’s Board of Directors, federal MPs, senators, the president of Education International, Thulas Nxesi, and representatives of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Oxfam Canada, and other NGOs. GAW turns the world’s attention to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the pressing need to eradicate poverty through education.

The agreement’s 2005–10 time frame represents a critical period in the lead-up to the Education for All targets, which must be reached by 2015.

Canadian teachers working for nothing less than social transformation abroad
Although professional development for teachers abroad was CTF’s focus in its early international days, it soon extended its wings to support the capacity of national teacher unions, and to incorporate social issues such as women’s rights, HIV/AIDS education, educational resources, and others. Although CTF believes that developing countries must drive their own development, it also believes that well-informed, engaged, and respected teachers can open doors with national policy-makers and civil society leaders and nurture the healthy development of young citizens.

Project Overseas
In 1963, CTF launched its world-renowned Project Overseas (PO) program. Today’s PO participants continue to volunteer time and skills to improve teaching performance and school management in developing countries. Canadian advisors work with partners to enhance professional capacity and organizational skills. Since its inception, 306 BCTF members have participated on 451 assignments around the world.

In 2005, three BCTF members are participating: Geoff Stubbs, Alberni District Secondary School, Qualicum Beach, will be returning to Malawi as team leader. Laura Barker who currently teaches in School District #70, in Alberni, will travel to Jordan, and Derek Imai, who is with the Surrey School Board, is off to Grenada. Both Barker and Imai are first-time participants, while Stubbs is now chalking up his seventh assignment. He has been a team member three times in Cameroon, twice in Malawi, and once in Dominica and in Guyana.

Teachers’ contributions have not gone unnoticed. In its 2001 report to its Congress, in Thailand, Education International (EI) highly praised CTF’s Project.

Another successful CTF program is the John M. Thompson Fellowship Program, which provides regional training for the leadership of national teachers’ organizations. Along with partners from the Education International network, CTF provides tailor-made programming in key development areas. Many of the fellows have moved on successfully to higher positions within their respective education system and/or government.

Where do we go from here?
Funding provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will allow CTF and member organizations to continue their work in a diversity of countries including many of the poorest and HIV/AIDS affected countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. This initiative will focus on the delivery of "Quality Education for All" through capacity building, professional development, gender equality, HIV/AIDS, and influence on National Education Plans. This five-year program will be cost-shared, with CTF and its member organizations contributing $4.2 million in funds and $3.7 million in-kind being provided by member organizations and teachers through their direct front-line work. In addition, the program will receive in-kind professional services and administrative assistance from Education International, which represents 29 million teachers around the world.

Now that federal funding is secured, the work continues for CTF and member organizations as we join other teacher federations around the world to transform the hope for prosperity and wellness through education into reality.

CTF is the national bilingual voice of over 210,000 teachers in Canada.

Based in Ottawa, CTF has a staff of 38, who work in professional services, economics, research, services to francophones, international programs, communications, and translation services.

To learn more about CTF and its work, visit www.ctf-fce.ca.

Francine Filion is communications officer for the CTF.

Global Action Week

The CTF presented cutout friends to federal government officials in Ottawa at a special breakfast on Parliament Hill on April 19 to highlight the annual Global Action Week. Canadian students and teachers created the cut-out friends to symbolize 105-million out-of-school children and 860 million illiterate adults around the world. Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLelland promised to take some of the cutouts with the Canadian delegation attending the G8 Summit, in July, in Scotland. Global Action Week serves as a public reminder to governments and intergovernmental agencies to keep promises made at the World Education Forum in April 2000, as enshrined in the UN Millennium Development Goals, to provide free, quality Education For All (EFA) by the year 2015.

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