Perspectives

CTF’s International Program: Already 55 years old!

By Brigitte Bergeron
June 16, 2017

Project Overseas 1967 participants as they board the plane to their assignment countries.

CTF’s proud history of development cooperation in education goes back 55 years. In a news release dated June 22, 1962, CTF announced:

Two widely experienced and highly qualified Canadian teachers, Miss Ruth N. (Penny) Banks (Saskatchewan) and F. Clarke MacDonald (Ontario), will join hands with 40 Nigerian teachers this summer in a pilot project aimed at training 1,000 young Nigerian teachers at the University of Nsukka. It is believed to be the first privately-financed Canadian project designed to help a new African country upgrade its educational system.

With this 1962 pilot project, CTF’s International Program was born! Over the years, the International Program team has worked in partnership with national teacher organizations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America to improve access to quality publicly funded education for all.

In fact, thanks to the support of its Member organizations, CTF has allowed over 2,000 Canadian teachers to follow in MacDonald’s and Banks’ footsteps by participating in more than 3,000 missions and projects.

CTF’s International Program called Teachers’ Action for Learning includes three components: Teachers’ Action for Teaching, which focuses on teacher professional development; Teachers’ Action for Teacher Organizations, which is aimed at strengthening the capacity of partner organizations; and Teachers’ Action for Gender Equality, which includes activities designed for national teacher organizations as well as support for regional women’s networks in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. This component also provides support to various girls’ education initiatives.

The International Program’s best-known initiative is by far Project Overseas. Fully sponsored by CTF Member organizations, this international union-to-union program has included partnerships between the CTF and teacher organizations in over 50 countries throughout Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. Every year, during the months of July and August, teachers from all over Canada volunteer to work with overseas partner organizations and local teachers in planning and delivering professional development workshops.

The main objectives of the program are: to support the professional learning of teachers in developing countries; to help overseas teacher organizations strengthen their capacity and services to members; to contribute to long-term projects designed to strengthen quality, publicly funded public education; and to promote understanding and goodwill among teachers.

Canadian teachers work shoulder to shoulder with local teachers in developing and delivering the workshops and, in the process, they learn just as much as local teachers; it is a learning experience on both sides.

Workshop topics are identified by each overseas partner organization, in accordance to their unique priorities and plans.

Because all CTF supported development cooperation activities require respect for gender, race and other elements of social equity, the overseas partner organizations are asked to pay special attention to the involvement of women in all program activities. Therefore, the program must also include activities designed specifically to promote gender equality, active participation of women and equal learning opportunities for boys and girls. In addition, the overseas partner organizations are encouraged and supported to include sessions on endemic health issues such as HIV and AIDS, dengue fever or other health issues that are relevant to the country.

CTF is proud to work with partners worldwide, and this is made possible thanks to the generous financial and in-kind contributions of Member organizations. We couldn’t mark the Program’s 55th anniversary without recognizing and thanking Member organizations for their continued support over the years!

Brigitte Bergeron is the Director of the CTF International and Social Justice Program.

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Perspectives web magazine is published by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), a national alliance of provincial and territorial teacher organizations that represent nearly 232,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada.

Editor In Chief: Francine Filion | Translation: Marie‑Caroline Uhel and Marie‑Hélène Larrue
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